Asian Heritage Month – meet the Li brothers

Cpl Jeff Li

Cpl Jeff Li carries out his duties with the CAF. Photos: Canadian Armed Forces

Marie-Christine De Tilly 

To mark Asian Heritage Month, the Strategic Partners Engagement Office invited two military members of Asian descent to share their stories and provide advice to new members in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Asian Heritage Month, celebrated in May, aims to highlight the culture and history of Asian Canadians.

Sergeant Mingxin Li was born in Nanjing in the Republic of China and arrived in Montreal with his parents at the age of one. The birth of his younger brother Jeff completed the family. The brothers grew up in Mont-Royal.

Both Li brothers enlisted in the CAF within a year of each other (2013 and 2014) and have since contributed to several domestic and overseas operations. These include Kuwait in 2015 and Iraq in 2018. Their desire to learn new skills, combined with the opportunity to help their community, convinced them to answer the call and join the Primary Reserve.

“As a university student, employment in the Primary Reserve of the Canadian Armed Forces offered an interesting challenge and provides significant flexibility to successfully complete one’s education,” Cpl Li says.

During their last few years in the Forces, the two brothers were able to assist their community by responding to the several spring flooding incidents as part of Operation Lentus.

“Canada is where I was born and raised. I am very proud to serve my country and grateful for all the opportunities the Canadian Armed Forces have given me,” says Cpl Li.

When he is not in uniform, he practices as a business lawyer with Stikeman Elliott.

Sgt Li enlisted as a military intelligence specialist with 4th Intelligence Company after completing his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics.

“I came to Montreal at a young age and was able to discover and keep my roots while being exposed to many other cultures. I owe part of my success to my education, my values, and the incredible support of my family,” he says.

In addition to his many deployments, he has taught several intelligence courses, as well as a recruit course.

“I realized early in my career that my life experiences, cultural background, and values were a very strong complement to the excellent core skills I had learned in the Forces. I have continued to add strings to my bow and keep my knowledge current through training, experience, and seeking additional professional designations,” he says. He works full time with the Montreal Police Department in an investigative support position.

Both brothers believe it is important to embrace diversity.  “Be authentic, be your own person, and don’t try to fit into a mold. It’s better to be yourself. Let’s pay special attention to the stories of our sisters and brothers and friends of Asian descent, as they are an essential part of our history, present and future. ”

Sgt Mingxin Li

Sgt Mingxin Li carries out his duties with the CAF. Photo: Canadian Armed Forces

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