TORONTO: Several of the nominees of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Medals were given this honour at its Winter Gala held at the Grand Victorian Convention Centre at the weekend.
Joe Oliver, Minister for Natural Resources, and Julian Fantino, Minister for International Cooperation, honoured the awardeees with medals.
Bal Gosal, Minister of State for Sports, Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Asha Seth, Senator, Preeti Saran, Consul General of India in Toronto, and Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga, were special guests at the reception.
Among the recipients of the medals are those who have contributed significantly to making the Chamber one of the largest Indo-Canadian business and Diaspora organizations in Canada.
On this occasion, the ICCC also honoured members of the Indo-Canadian Diaspora who have contributed to enhancing the profile of the community. In fact, the ICCC had themed its annual Winter Gala celebration as ‘Recognizing our Stars’.
Explaining the basis of the selection process in his address, Naval Bajaj, President, ICCC, said that when the Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston’s office asked the Chamber to chose its nominees for the medal, its leadership decided to honour individuals who have made a sterling contribution to the Chamber and to the Indo-Canadian community.
He said the number of people who have contributed to the growth of the Chamber and the community is substantially bigger than those who were honoured at the event. “I wish we had more medals to honour some more of our Chamber’s and our community’s leaders,” said Bajaj.
Additionally, he also explained that the Canadian establishment had already recognized many people before ICCC could do so, and many of the Chamber’s past presidents, directors, members and supporters have already received the medal. “This is an indication of how well integrated our community is in Canada; it is also a measure of how successful we are,” Naval Bajaj observed.
The highlight of the medal presentation ceremony was the march to the presentation podium of the recipients accompanied by the band from the 32 Service Battalion of the National Defense. The presence of the band, led by Pipe Major Michael More, playing traditional bagpipes and drums, turned the presentation ceremony into an august occasion that was cherished by the audience.
Hari Panday, former President, ICCC, and Lieutenant-Colonel (Honorary), 32 Service Battalion, National Defence, was instrumental in arranging for the armed service personnel band to be involved with the medal presentation ceremony.
The ICCC’s annual Winter Gala is a marquee event that saw over participation of over 600 guests that included prominent entrepreneurs, professionals, government officials, academics, community leaders, media representatives among others. The guests were enthralled by Divya Kumar’s dance troupe’s fusion dances that were a fusion of western and Indian popular music and dance ensembles.
Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, said, “Canada is immensely proud of its relationship with India — proud to call itself friend to a nation that is becoming one of the world’s great economic powers. The warmth of the relationship between Canada and India is bolstered commercially by a strong complementarity of interests. Canadian exports to India were up more than 20% last year, to a record $2.6 billion.”
He also lauded the role of the Indo-Canadians in fostering the bilateral relationship between Canada and India. He observed, “Throughout my time in India, whether I was meeting with Government Ministers, with representatives of their natural resources industry, or with academics — a common theme throughout was the connection to Indo-Canadians here in Canada. This community has done more than make its mark in Canada — Indo-Canadians have cemented the foundation of the Indo-Canadian friendship, and are a key driver of the relationship in numerous endeavours between our two countries. Economic relationships can truly flourish when they are supported by strong personal relationships.”
Minister Julian Fantino, in his speech, emphasized the role of the Indo-Canadian community to the fabric of the Canadian society. Preeti Saran, Consul General of India to Toronto and Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of Mississauga, also spoke on the occasion.
The sponsors for the event included Thapliyal and Rai, the entertainment sponsors for the evening; Air Wick, Brar Sweets and Minaaz Jewellery for the gift bags; Johnnie Walker for the tasting booth at the venue; Minaaz Jewellery and Johnnie Walker also sponsored the raffle prizes.
Several elected representatives including Patrick Brown, MP and the chairman of the Canada-India Parliamentary Association, along with other members of parliament, members of provincial parliament and councillors were also present at the event.
Here is the list of ICCC recipients of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medals:
As the President of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (1991-93) Ajit Someshwar launched the Chamber’s Annual Awards, which two decades later have become an institution. He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, social activist. He serves on EDC’s board.
Anil Shah: As the founder director of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce’s Golf Committee, entrepreneur Anil Shah launched the ICCC’s foray into organized philanthropy. In its 15th year now, the Golf Classic has contributed to various charities in Toronto.
As the official photographer of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, Bashir Nasir has chronicled the history of the Chamber over the last three decades. He has as seen ICCC grow to become the largest Indian Diaspora organisation in Canada.
Douglas Kelly is a veteran journalist who has a demonstrable track record of achievements. As publisher of National Post, Douglas has built bridges with ethnic minorities in Canada. He is a recipient of the Asia-Pacific Fellowship for Journalists.
Geetha Ramesh: has made sterling contributions to the Indo-Canadian community in Alberta. As the head of the Alberta Council & National Director of the ICCC, she has created a base for the community to participate in the economic fabric of province.
Gopal Bhatnagar is a cardiac surgeon, an expert in beating heart surgery, and chief of staff at Trillium. His philosophy is that every patient would get the operation they deserve using world-class benchmarks as the minimum acceptable standard.
As an active member of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce for the last 20 years, Harjit S. Kalsi’s has helped the Chamber achieve its mandate of fostering Canada-India trade, and creating opportunities for the Indian Diaspora in Canada.
Imtiaz Seyid has utilised his thorough understanding of the multicultural markets to knit broad alliances of different communities in Canada; he has also helped organizations such as the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce gain access to the mainstream.
Kant Kishore Bhargava is Honourary Senior Advisor Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. His analyses and policy advice helped ICCC build economic bridges between Canada and India, and contribute to Canadian society in conjunction with other diaspora organizations.
Kanta Arora’s name is synonymous with volunteerism, social work, commitment, integrity and credibility. She is a role model in volunteerism. Her broad vision for the Indo-Canadian community’s needs has paved the way for its better integration.
Kasi Rao is Senior Advisor Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. His policy advice especially related to SMEs and Diaspora helped ICCC organise the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Canada 2011, and build economic bridges between Canada and India.
Kishore Doshi is the Founding President of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. The organization he started in a garage in 1977 has grown to become the largest and oldest business organisation of Indo-Canadians in Canada.
Naval Bajaj: As the 25th President of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, Naval Bajaj has taken ICCC to a higher level of operations by focusing key bilateral issues like energy security, agriculture, nuclear cooperation, civilian, defense & space technologies.
Rakesh Goenka pioneered Canada-India collaboration in the IT sector through the IT Group which was later merged with the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. His efforts at creating economic synergies led to trade policy formulations in Canada and India.
Through his academic research Ravi Seethapathy has contributed to a more ‘India-engaged’ Canada. He has chaired/served on many boards such as Ryerson University, Canadian Club, Engineers without Borders, Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce.
Renu Mehta is a Communications Specialist. She has been actively involved in promoting opportunities and representing immigrant communities to integrate into the Canadian social fabric though extensive involvement in various diversity organizations.
Sabi Marwah has tremendous achievements in diverse spheres of activities such as philanthropy and promotion of arts and culture. He has helped Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce’s grow within the Diaspora and integrate into Canadian mainstream.
Dr. Salim Yusuf has expanded our understanding of the causes and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. His INTERHEART study of 28,000 individuals in 52 countries demonstrated that 9 modifiable risks predicted over 95% of heart attacks globally.
Philanthropist Sampat Poddar believes rather than financial assistance, the needy are better served by innovative ideas that result in social and economic uplift of the downtrodden; he has spent a lifetime raising funds for social innovations.
Soham Ajmera is Chairman FGF Brands Inc. He founded Dough Delight in 1974 and is today one of North America’s largest flatbread manufacturers. He holds a patent for continuous tandoor oven, and is a philanthropist, contributing to diverse causes.
Srini Iyengar is an active fundraiser for charities such as Stephen Lewis Aids Foundation and CAMH. He has supported hundreds of community organizations through EIPROC – an association of South Asian professionals in Canada. Srini mentors newcomers.
Suresh Thakrar has contributed to the financial services industry of Canada for over three decades, & he has served the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce in different capacities. He has served other boards like Greater Toronto Airport Authority & ROM.
While scaling great heights in his profession as a dentist, Terry Papneja has devoted his life to educate underprivileged children in India through ‘AIM for SEVA’ whose goal is to empower them by creating sustainable solutions to hunger & poverty.
A banker by profession, Venki Raman is a motivational speaker who mentors newcomers to Canada. He is passionate about the upliftment of the youth, and constantly contributes his time and energy for the betterment of the underprivileged and hospitals.
– From ICCC press release