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KPU honours prosecutor Winston Sayson with 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

KPU honours prosecutor Winston Sayson with 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

Tue, Jun 21, 2022
Retired prosecutor and KPU alumnus Winston Sayson.

A longtime crown prosecutor and Kwantlen Polytechnic University graduate known for his work on high-profile cases in B.C. is being honoured with the university’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Winston Sayson, one of KPU’s first graduates, will receive the award June 21 during convocation ceremonies at the university’s Surrey campus.

“It is deeply meaningful for me to be recognized with the 2022 KPU Distinguished Alumni Award. This brings back good memories of my first two years in Canada in a community college that was just founded. This award affirms the value of an academic education and vocational training from a polytechnic university.”

Sayson, a retired Crown counsel with the B.C. Prosecution Service, was the first Filipino-Chinese Canadian lawyer given the honorary title of Queen’s Counsel, which recognizes exceptional merit and contribution to the legal profession.

Sayson enrolled at Kwantlen College, as it was previously known, in 1981—the year the institution was founded. At the time, Sayson was a new immigrant from the Philippines and English was his third language. After two years of study, he transferred to University of B.C. to earn a bachelor of arts and bachelor of laws.

“Kwantlen College helped me to quickly and successfully adjust and thrive in a new country and new culture,” he says. “Kwantlen was instrumental in providing me with a nurturing place to learn. It built me a solid foundation to earn further educational credentials.”

Sayson returned to the institution later in his career, earning his citation in counselling skills in 2004. He says that provided him with additional skills and practical knowledge to become a better prosecutor.

“The citation in counselling skills gave me the tools and the trauma-informed mindset to effectively help vulnerable victims and witnesses through the criminal justice system.”

Throughout his career, Sayson prosecuted some of B.C.’s most significant and high-profile criminal cases. He is highly regarded for his expertise in working with children and vulnerable victims and helping them through the criminal justice system with genuine care. Sayson was also committed to the success of others.

“The accomplishments that stand out in my career are the ones where people I trained and mentored have become successful and better than I am,” he says. “Generously investing in others and seeing them succeed is an accomplishment that continues to live on even after you are no longer with the organization or have retired.”

Sayson earned a 30-year service award in 2018 before retiring the following year. Today he is still involved in the community as a speaker, advocate and volunteer. He remains grateful for the opportunities Canada and KPU provided him, and it’s a message he is leaving with this year’s graduates.

“KPU is an exceptional, extraordinary and excellent place for post-secondary education and vocational training. We are truly privileged to receive our credentials from KPU,” he says.

Deepak Gill, a probation officer who nominated Sayson for the award, says Sayson had an exemplary career but his compassion toward others set him apart.

“Despite his extremely busy caseload, prosecuting some of the most high-profile criminal cases, Winston still took the time to mentor, make connections and provide a true ethic of care most notably to victims of crime,” says Gill. “Winston was arguably one of the best trial prosecutors in this province—highly respected—and despite that he still wanted to expand his knowledge, be even more helpful and he did this by returning to KPU to complete programming in counselling skills.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes KPU alumni demonstrating lifetime accomplishments in one or more of three areas: professional, entrepreneurial, innovation; service; and exemplified resilience in the face of adversity.