Gladys Nipp & Stephen Mah Family Award

Black-and-white portrait of Stephen Mah and Gladys Nipp dressed formally
Stephen Mah and Gladys Nipp

This $1000 award was established in 2019 and named in honour of Gladys Nipp and Stephen Mah. Each year, it is given to one or more undergraduate or graduate UVic student(s) in any discipline.

Winning students submit a proposal describing how they will utilize and/or enhance the UVic Libraries' Chinese-Canadian collections for the purposes of research, outreach initiatives (including both physical and/or digital exhibitions), or oral history projects. 

Award details

  • Eligible students must submit a 500-word essay proposal demonstrating how UVic Libraries’ Chinese-Canadian collections will assist in their research
  • The University Librarian’s Office will nominate the recipient(s)
  • Approval of the recipients will be made by either the Senate Committee on Awards for undergraduate students, or the Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Awards Committee for graduate students, upon the recommendation of the University Librarian

Donor biography

Gladys Nipp & Stephen Mah

Gladys (NIPP Suey Fong) and Stephen (MAH Bing Hwon) welcomed each day with a sense of adventure.

Their life together was a composite of the early Chinese experience in Canada.

Gladys was the youngest of 10 children. Her father, Nip Dip Wai, arrived in 1881 when he was 17 to help build the CPR. Her mother, Nip Pau Tai (aka Eng Shee) arrived 10 years later and paid the head-tax. The family settled in Cumberland then moved to Victoria.

Her brothers and sisters often hosted gatherings at their home in Chinatown. Bachelor ‘uncles’, separated from their wives and families by Canadian legislation, always had a place to go. Later on, they pooled their resources for Gladys to take piano lessons and gain a good education. Fluent in Chinese and English, Gladys was one of the earlier Chinese women to attend Vic College. She graduated with the class of ’42.

Stephen was a graduate of Nanking University. He arrived in Victoria in July 1947, shortly after the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 was repealed, to teach at the Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street. This is where Gladys’ sisters also taught. They thought the affable, soft-spoken gentleman would make a good match for their much loved baby sister who was outgoing and sparkled.

Gladys and Stephen were married in 1950s and for 58 years they were inseparable. They devote much of their time to the community. Gladys was involved with the Chinatown Girl’s Drum and Bugle troupe and Stephen served as secretary for the Chinese Nationalist League.

When Stephen left teaching, they became co-proprietors of Vancouver Island Produce on Yates Street before purchasing Super Save Market located at 1329 Esquimalt Road. Stephen kept the shelves stocked and made home deliveries while Gladys minded the front of the store. They are fondly remembered as the last generation of shop-keepers who knew their customers personally and served each with kindness and respect.

In their retirement Gladys and Stephen would stroll through UVic waving to the grounds-keepers and stopping to chat with international students many of whom were the early group from China. For many years, they stepped in as a surrogate family opening their home to students who would enjoy home-cooked meals or afternoon tea, or when they needed a place to stay. Of course, they housed many nieces and nephews who worked in Victoria for the summer or who were the second and third generation to attend UVic.

This award was established in 2019 by the Nipp family in memory of a beloved aunt and uncle who held family, friends and the community close to their hearts. Gladys and Stephen gently and steadfastly paved the way for future generations, and for this we are grateful.

UVic Libraries Chinese-Canadian collections

See the list below for an overview of the Chinese-Canadian collections at UVic Libraries. Please note this list does not cover the full contents of the collections. For more information or to visit the archives, please email archives@uvic.ca.

  • Annual deadline: May 31
  • Eligibility: UVic students, at either the undergraduate or graduate level
  • Submit entries to: Submit a 500-word research proposal and application form directly to

For more information, please contact 

Read the winning research proposals in the UVicSpace collection for this award

2021: Mary Anne Vallianatos

2020: Lynn (Yu Ling) Ng; Olivia Hart