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Politicians from India’s Punjab state reportedly detained at Ottawa airport, deported

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Two politicians from the Indian state of Punjab were reportedly denied entry into Canada on Sunday and put on a flight back to India.

Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa, both MLAs with the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in Punjab, were detained and questioned by immigration officials upon arrival at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, according to Kamal Garg, a B.C.-based spokesperson for the AAP.

The MLAs were in Ottawa for a family event, but were unable to satisfy Canadian authorities as to the purpose of their visit, Garg told Global News.

They were released after questioning, and put on an Air Canada flight back to India.

One of the MLAs may have mentioned to Canadian immigration officials that he was in the country for political meetings, the Indian Express reported, citing a senior AAP leader.

AAP leaders in Punjab have previously been accused of sympathizing with the Khalistan (Sikh separatist) movement. The party’s top MLA in Punjab caused a stir last month when he expressed support for a referendum on the creation of Khalistan, the Hindustan Times reported last month.

The Khalistan issue was a major flashpoint of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s troubled trip to India in February, with some Indian leaders alleging that members of the Liberal Party were cozying up to Sikh separatist elements.

The AAP’s Vancouver-based spokesperson denied that the deportation was politically motivated, saying neither MLA has spoken out on Khalistan.

Sandoa has been in the news in India lately for other controversies and alleged crimes, however.

On Friday, a court charged him with molesting his former landlady; last month, he was hospitalized after being assaulted by a man who accused him of extortion.

 

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Welcome to Canada!

Posted on 05 July 2018 by admin

Inaugural Brampton Newcomer Day offered programming and fun for the whole family

BRAMPTON, June 27, 2018 – As we approach Canada Day and on Canadian Multiculturalism Day, the Brampton Multicultural Centre in partnership with RBC, celebrated Newcomers to Canada with a festive afternoon of programming for all ages. Brampton Newcomer Day, a first for the city, brought together more than 20 local exhibitors who offered their services in order to help Newcomers feel more settled in their new community.

Those in attendance were offered workshops on everything from building a LinkedIn profile to learning about how to buy a house in Canada.  Employment events, speed mentoring and resume critiquing rounded out the practical workshops, while families with children were treated to face-painting and visits with RBC Olympian Brittany McLean and Leo the Lion.

“On top of the challenges of leaving family behind, there are many barriers that newcomers face around  gaining employment, finding housing, accessing services and getting financial assistance, as they build new lives in a new country,” said Zanita DiSalle, Brampton Regional Vice President, RBC. “At the new RBC Newcomer Meeting Place, we’re helping newcomers overcome some of those common issues along with our partners at the Brampton Multicultural Centre.  The inaugural Brampton Newcomer Day is one way to let people know that this community is here to help and support them.”

Brampton Newcomer Day offered a variety of programming, from accessing Canadian health care to getting advice on resume-building and job-hunting, to speaking to someone about banking in Canada to fun activities for kids. Some of the participating Community Partners include:

•          Peel Police

•          Brampton Fire and Emergency Services

•          Brampton Community Health Centre

•          The Centre for Education & Training

•          William Osler Hospital

•          Early Years Ontario

•          RBC Royal Bank

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Celebrating 10 years of inspirational newcomer achievements

Posted on 27 June 2018 by admin

The 2018 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners include NHL hockey dad, comedic actor, doctor, senator, and an app entrepreneur

TORONTO, June 19, 2018 – What does a hockey dad of three NHL stars, a mental health advocate, and auto-dealer/Raptors “Superfan” have in common? They all were once newcomers to Canada and have contributed to their communities through leadership and philanthropy, and now have been selected as winners in this year’s 10th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. The winners are being presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine and proudly sponsored by RBC Royal Bank.

From coast to coast, the 2018 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants are a reflection of Canadian culture, diversity, and nation-building spirit. From Karl Subban, an educator who has guided his three sons to NHL stardom, to Senator Ratna Omidvar, who has been a lifelong diversity advocate, to Dr. Saroj Niraula, an oncologist, and researcher to just name a few.

For the last 10 years, the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards have highlighted stories of Canadian immigrants who have demonstrated incredible contributions and achievements in Canada. In addition to this year’s top 25 winners, 250 winners have been honoured over the last decade with this incredible achievement.

“Celebrating 10 years is a true milestone for our awards, and we couldn’t be prouder of the amazing immigrants who form this year’s RBC Top 25,” says Margaret Jetelina, editor, Canadian Immigrant magazine.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will be honoured at ceremonies in Toronto on June 19th2018 and in Vancouver on June 27th 2018. In addition to the top 25 winners, two winners will also be selected for special recognition, the RBC Entrepreneur Award, and the Youth Award.

Philippines-born Loizza Aquino, 18, is the second annual Youth Award winner. From Winnipeg, she is the founder of the youth-led non-profit organization called Peace of Mind, which focuses on mental health advocacy.

“The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards celebrate the outstanding accomplishments and leadership of newcomers across Canada.  Now in its tenth year and with over 250 newcomers recognized, the Awards highlight our country’s diversity, and the contributions and positive impact newcomers have been making in our communities. Congratulations to all winners and nominees,” says Ivy Chiu, Senior Director, Newcomer Strategy at RBC.

Hundreds of nominations were received, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a diverse judging panel of past winners. Nearly 60,000 online votes were cast. The 25 winners were chosen based on a combination of votes and the second round of judging.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation will be made toward a registered Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will also be featured online at canadianimmigrant.ca/rbctop25 and in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

 

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Annual Walk for Al- Quds Held on Saturday 09th June 2018 At Queens Park

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Over 2,500 Jews, Christians, Muslims and people from all walks of lives in Toronto joined millions of protestors in over 800 cities to condemn the israeli war crimes against the indigenous Palestinian population. The protestors expressed their solidarity with the 7.2 million refugees who have been forced out of their homes by the Zionist extremist settlers, who believe that they have a religious right to the land. The attendees also expressed their dismay at the incarceration of over 800,000 and the massacre of over 9,000 Palestinians including over 2,000 children.

Speakers at the rally, which included Jewish human rights activists, strongly condemned the war crimes committed by the israeli army especially in the past two months in Gaza. Many of the attendees wore lab coats to express solidarity with Razan Al-Najjar, a 21 year old Palestinian nurse, murdered by the israeli army snipers for the crime of trying to help an injured protestor. A number of women also carried coffins of children to give a voice to the anguish of the mothers of the Palestinian children including an 8 month old baby killed by tear gas poisoning last month and a 15 year old boy shot dead by Israeli snipers on Friday.

The attempts by JDL and B’nai Brith to stop the Al Quds rally failed miserably again this year. The Jews attending the rally also strongly condemned the unsuccessful efforts by these organizations to label condemnation of israeli war crimes as anti-Semitism and vowed to never let the racist ideology of Zionism represent the beautiful faith of Judaism. The speakers at the rally also issued a strong condemnation of the derogatory sermon by the Chief Rabbi of Israel in March 2018 in which he referred to black people as ‘monkeys’ and reinforced Zionist racial supremacist ideology of defining the purpose of existence of non-Jews as servants of Jews.

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Ontario Liberal candidate for Scarborough Centre Mazhar Shafiq says it is important for the community to become part of the mainstream politics.

Posted on 06 June 2018 by admin

SCARBOROUGH-Ontario Liberal candidate for Scarborough Centre Mazhar Shafiq says it is important for the community to become part of the mainstream politics.

“My message to the community is crystal clear-come forward and be part of the political process,” Mazhar Shafiq said. “We live in Ontario and it is important to be part of the policy making at the provincial level.”

Mazhar Shafiq, is not banking on one community. His team represents all the communities in the riding. Volunteers continue to drum up support, and are getting tremendous feedback. “We are going strong and moving door-to-door to share our message,” he said.

The Ontario Liberal candidate for Scarborough Centre says he is honoured to be part of the Ontario Liberal Team. “I consider it a great privilege to contest the elections in the riding of Scarborough Centre. This is a tremendously diverse and vibrant community, and my hope is to be a strong and articulate advocate for the interests of Scarborough Centre at Queen’s Park,” said Shafiq.

Following a competitive nomination race with over 9,000 local members, Mazhar Shafiq was elected as the Ontario Liberal Party Candidate for Scarborough Centre earlier this year.

A community leader and political advisor, Mazhar arrived at Pearson Airport twenty years ago with little more than a desire to see a better life for his young family.

Upon arriving in Canada, he earned a post-graduate certificate from Sheridan College and worked in various roles in the automotive sector, before becoming a special assistant to Dr Rob Oliphant MP. Since 2013, he has served as a senior advisor to Premier Kathleen Wynne. He is also an active supporter of several charities, community groups and local hospitals, including the Scarborough Hospital.

In 2006, Mazhar Shafiq came up with a proposal of connecting with the ethnic communities via the ethnic media. “The then MPP Kathleen Wynne liked the idea, and asked me to take the lead. We did our first round-table with three media professionals. We now connect with over 800 ethnic media groups,” he said.

“My story is a story made possible by a supportive government that values immigration, skills development and ensures a minimum-wage job pays a fair living. That is why I am so passionate to be running on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s team, to ensure every family can access affordable post-secondary education, find an affordable home and work to get ahead,” said Shafiq. “I am honoured to be standing as a candidate to fight for those Canadian values and to serve all communities in our diverse riding.”

Mazhar Shafiq describes Kathleen Wynne’s win in the leadership race as his best political moment. He, however, mentions one specific situation which left an everlasting impact on him. “One day, a woman walked into my office and asked for help to bring her husband to Canada. She was under enormous stress, and was also on a suicide watch. We as a team helped her in the documentation, and I also remained in contact with Islamabad. In six months, her husband was here. Today, I am really happy to see them happy together,” he said.

Mazhar Shafiq is all praise for his wife, Summra, and rightly so. “She has played a contributory role in my journey to success. She has sacrificed some of our evenings and weekends for the community. Being the only child, she even made a big sacrifice when she agreed to come to Canada.”

He and his wife have two sons. He served as their school council chair and ran a variety of programs for youth. His fans also include senior politicians.

“I’m thrilled the people of Scarborough Centre will have a Liberal candidate who will make them proud. Maz has the skills and talent to be a strong local representative and make a significant contribution to the future of Scarborough,” said Brad Duguid, the long-time local MPP. “I’m also pleased Maz will further advance the efforts of our Premier to build a team that represents the diversity of Ontario.”

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Tensions rise in South Asian community in wake of Mississauga restaurant bombing

Posted on 30 May 2018 by admin

Wild speculation over possible motivations for Thursday’s bomb blast at a popular Indian restaurant in Mississauga has exacerbated tensions within local South Asian communities.

As police continued their manhunt Saturday for two suspects behind the audacious late-night attack, which injured 15 people at a Bombay Bhel restaurant, media and online commenters suggested a multiplicity of causes, from white supremacy to Islamic terror to Sikh nationalism.

Such speculation prompted the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee (OGC), a major Sikh organization, to take the unusual step of condemning both the attack itself and the rumours that followed — some of which it claims have been spread by “foreign media outlets,” in particular Indian media.

“Upon further investigation, we can verify that Indian media outlets have engaged in the spread of misinformation regarding this tragedy,” the committee said.

The written statement, co-signed by OGC spokesperson Amarjit Singh Mann and OGC member Bhagat Singh Brar, signals distrust within the Sikh community of Indian officials in Canada. It criticizes the Indian Consulate of Toronto for overstepping its diplomatic reach by establishing a hotline to gather information on the bombing.

People with possible information on the case should be contacting Peel police, the committee said, not the Indian Consulate. It called upon Indian officials “to stay within their diplomatic parameters when operating in Canada and to immediately end their continued interference in Canadian domestic matters.”

A spokesperson for the Indian Consulate of Toronto declined to comment on the Sikh statement.

One official with the Gurdwaras Committee, speaking to the Star on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized as an official spokesperson, said the statement reflected “deep — and unwarranted — anxiety within the community.”

 “If it were quote-unquote ‘trolls’ pointing fingers it wouldn’t bother us so much,” the source said. “The fact that an actual news broadcast in India, within minutes of the attack, pointed to Sikhs as possibly being involved sent us into panic mode,” the official said.

“There is obviously pre-existing tension. Many Sikhs in Canada feel they were dragged through the mud for two months after Prime Minister Trudeau’s India trip, in part because of an Indian media narrative that too many Canadian media seemed to have just copied-and-pasted, without realizing the media in India is mostly controlled by government parties.”

Rattan Mall, editor of the Indo-Canadian Voice, a leading forum for South Asian news in Canada, said the Sikh statement reflects ongoing tension within what is a “pretty divided community at the moment.” But he cautioned that there is nothing to suggest any link between that tension and the attack in Mississauga.

“Everyone needs to cool the baseless speculation and let the police do their job. It could be anything at this point,” said Mall. “Once they determine what this really was, then you can start pointing all the fingers you’ve got.”

Officials shed no new light Saturday on what prompted two masked men to ignite an improvised explosive device aimed at some 40 diners inside Bombay Bhel, a popular eatery on Hurontario St. near Eglinton Ave.

Peel police say there is no indication it was a hate crime or an act of terror, but nothing has been ruled out as the investigation proceeds. They confirmed “multiple agencies” are assisting in the probe and they vowed to collar the two suspects, who were captured on security video entering the restaurant, their faces obscured by hoodies and caps.

“We’re going to get these guys. They’re not going to get away with it,” said Const. Bally Saini, a Peel police spokesperson. She appealed for the public to be patient, decrying the rush to judgment.

“Our investigators are taking the time they need to comb through everything — and they are doing it with all the help they need from other agencies, including the RCMP,” Saini said.

Thursday night’s blast triggered international headlines focusing on the GTA as a site of attack, barely a month after 10 people were murdered in a van rampage on Yonge St. in North York.

Unlike April’s deadly attack, Thursday’s blast saw all 15 victims, who ranged in age from 23 to 69, released from hospital within a day, including three who had been critically injured — a 35-year-old Brampton man and two Mississauga women, 62 and 48.

It was a rare, non-lethal outcome for bombings that attract international attention.

“That is the one nice thing about this — everyone is out of hospital already,” Saini said. “That and the fact that while children were in attendance at the restaurant, none of the children were injured.”

Victims have yet to be officially identified, but details continue to emerge about the chaotic moments as two separate birthday parties were interrupted by the bomb blast.

One woman told reporters how a group of revellers, feting a woman who had just arrived from India that day, initially thought the bomb was a birthday cake with lit candles that had somehow gone awry. They hadn’t noticed the attackers enter the restaurant because their backs were to the door.

“They literally got up to cut the birthday cake, and she had the candles lit and she was about to blow them out and there was a huge bomb sound … They were laughing about it, being like, ‘Oh my God, that was like some birthday cake!’”

They quickly realized it was something far more serious, the woman said, in an interview broadcast on the Tag TV news channel and other outlets.

“Some people had fallen on the floor. People hadn’t realized how badly injured they were, but the bomb was right behind them. The person whose birthday it was was probably the least injured because she had rows of people behind her … They’ve been injured very badly on the back of their legs, everyone.”

A sense of normalcy was returning to the stricken Mississauga neighbourhood Saturday afternoon, with most of the plaza housing the still-shuttered restaurant and other nearby shops open for business. A large section of the parking lot remained cordoned off and forensic investigators could be seen working behind the restaurant.

Frank Sgro works at Sleep Country two doors away from Bombay Bhel. He’d closed up shop at 9:30 p.m. Thursday and didn’t notice anything unusual as he left through the back door. Saturday was the first day his store had reopened following the bombing.

“Yesterday everything was shut down,” Sgro said. He noted the store was quieter than usual Saturday afternoon.

“When I drove up I wasn’t even sure if we (had) access to our store,” Sgro said. “There’s been a couple people in, but most of them have been trying to get to Service Ontario.”

Service Ontario is the only store in the bustling strip mall that has not reopened its doors following Thursday’s incident.

Kim Rule, who owns a Pet Valu store opposite Bombay Bhel, said business was quieter than a typical Saturday. But one thing all of her customers had in common was curiosity.

“We’ve been steady, but it’s quieter today for sure,” Rule said. “Everyone that comes in asks (what happened).”

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JINNAH PARK INAUGURATED IN WINNIPEG, CANADA

Posted on 17 May 2018 by admin

          High Commissioner Tariq Azim Khan inaugurated the first ever Muhammad Ali Jinnah Park at Winnipeg, Manitoba today. Hundreds of people across Canada attended the ceremony.

In his address, the High Commissioner said that credit goes to the vibrant Pakistani-Canadian community in Manitoba for succeeding in naming of first ever Public Park in North American to be named after Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan. He said that this is the moment for us to pay tribute to the great sacrifices rendered by our founding fathers in order to have a separate homeland for Muslims in subcontinent.

          The High Commissioner, while appreciating the struggle of the Pakistani community referred to the quote of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile you cannot achieve”. He said that the community in Winnipeg is promoting and showcasing Pakistani culture and soft image through holding of cultural galas and they are acting as a bridge in promoting understanding between communities.

          Dr. Rashid Bahri, Community leader who led the campaign for Jinnah Park said in his opening remarks that Muhammad Ali Jinnah is closer to the heart of people of Pakistan and this park will remind our future generations about our great leader.

 Masrur khan President PSA Manitoba said that today is historic day for Pakistanis in Canada  and naming a park in Jinnah’s name shows how much migrant Pakistanis love the founder of Pakistan.

          Terry Duguid and Iqra Khalid Members of Canadian Parliament also addressed the ceremony and congratulated the Pakistani community in achieving this milestone.

          City Councillor Janice Luke said on the occasion that she is very happy to work with the Pakistani community for the maintenance of the Park and to make it worthwhile for the families to visit and hold cultural galas in the Park. She announced preparing a cricket ground within the park area for holding of local cricket tournament.

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Ontario Liberal Party under investigation for campaigning on taxpayers’ dime

Posted on 26 April 2018 by admin

The Ontario Liberal Party is officially under investigation from Elections Ontario following allegations they’re campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime. Last week, the Ontario PC Party filed a formal complaint to Elections Ontario detailing how the Liberals have been holding campaign style announcements with government resources.

On Friday, April 20th, Elections Ontario replied to the Ontario PC Party’s complaint in a letter, saying “we will contact you if we require any further information and will advise you of the result of our investigation.”

“Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are untrustworthy. They will do, say or promise anything to cling to power,” said Ontario PC advisor and former cabinet minister Frank Klees. “That includes abusing the taxpayer as a piggy bank for their own re-election campaign.”

Klees announced that in the last three weeks, the Wynne Liberals have held a total of 39 campaign style announcements. At an estimated cost of $7,500 each event, that brings the total amount spent campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime by the Liberals to $292,500.

“This is a government so desperate that they will stoop to never before seen lows,” added Klees. “There’s no amount of tax dollars off limits to this politically corrupt government, and they will continue to launch personal fear and smear attacks against their opponents and their opponents’ supporters.”

“It’s time for change. It’s time for a government that respects the taxpayer, and a government that looks out for the people.”

The letter from Elections Ontario reads:

I’m writing to acknowledge receipt of your letter of complaint to the Chief Electoral Officer dated April 16, 2018…

In your letter, you have expressed your concern regarding numerous events at which the Premier of Ontario and various government Minister have, in your and your client’s opinion, “conducted campaign style events…[and] used public assets and materials to advance the Liberal Party’s partisan message, and attack the Ontario PC Party and [its] Leader Doug Ford”.

Thank you for your letter and the information you have provided. We have advised the Ontario Liberal Party of the details of your complaint, in accordance with our Complaints Investigation and Enforcement Policy, which is attached for your reference.

We will contact you if we require any further information and will advise you of the result of our investigation.

 

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Sikh-Canadians Deserve Better Treatment

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

Coretta Scott King, a great civil rights leader and the wife of Martin Luther King Junior, once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”  The Sikh-Canadian community epitomizes this value; we embrace the communities that we live and work in, through selfless acts of service and compassion.

As a result of the uniqueness of our religion and our appearance, our brave community has been bearing the brunt of racism from the Komagata Maru incident, over one hundred years ago, to present day.

The negative narrative associated with the Sikh-Canadian community recently in the media is an example of this prejudice.  Sikh-Canadian shave faced these acts with significant courage and continue to emergeas shining examples of resilience and humility. Through numerous free community kitchens (langars), food drives, equality initiatives, youth outreach programs, and blood donations clinics, Sikh-Canadians bespeak the Sikh character of helping and supporting fellow human beings through selfless service. Sikh-Canadians believe that service to humanity is in fact service to God.

The attributes of Sikh-Canadians that I have mentioned are already very well known throughout Canada.  I write to express the sense of pain I share with my fellow members of the Sikh-Canadian community which has resulted from the baseless criticism of the Sikh-Canadian community over the course of the last month.

I have no intention of providing an opinion on the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the Canadian High Commissioner’s reception during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to India, the presence of Talwinder Singh Parmar’s pictures at events, the individual which orchestrated the Air India attack, or the politics behind these discussions.  I feel pain on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful, honest and hardworking Sikh-Canadians that have become unintentional subjects of these controversies, by no fault of their own.

I feel pain on behalf of the children that are bullied and criticized because the Sikh-Canadian community has been unfairly painted as a community of terrorists.

I feel pain for the Sikh-Canadians that volunteer to help the less fortunate by distributing free food to the homeless in downtown Toronto, that somehow are considered members of a terrorist entity, without basis. I know that countless Sikh-Canadians working in factories, offices and businesses are enduring the same emotions.  This is extremely unfair to Sikh-Canadians, and counter to the values of diversity and inclusion we celebrate as Canadians.

I have no sympathy for individuals guilty of perpetrating violence against humanity; I categorically condemn all acts of violence.  As a Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I have the privilege of interacting with people from all walks of life. Each community in Canada embodies unique and distinguished characteristics that help define them as Canadians; diversity is our strength. This applies to the Sikh-Canadian community in the same way it applies to other communities of Canadians.  As a Sikh-Canadian, I am particularly proud of the Sikh spiritual concept of selfless service to humanity.

We cannot deny that a deep sense of pain still exists within the Sikh community as a result of the deaths of innocent Sikhs in 1984. However, this pain is equally and genuinely felt by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and individuals of all other faiths. Raising your voice to seek justice for the victims of senseless violence can never be termed as terrorism. This is precisely why the people from all walks of life including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims have been asking for justice for the 1984 victims and their families. This has been my experience here in Canada.  This sentiment was reinforced during my recent visit to India, particularly in Delhi.

When we think of a long spell of terrorism in the Punjab region of India, the hard and painful fact is that it was Punjabis, both Sikhs and Hindus, who endured misery the most. I have grown up listening to so many discomforting stories about how Punjabis had to bear the cost of terrorism through loss of life and property.  No one would want this to happen to anyone in any segment of the world.

I feel that it is important to genuinely share the pain of the peace-loving, hard-working Sikh-Canadian community of which I am an integral part of. I will sum-up my feelings with a quote from Andrea Gibson,” You can have cold war with yourself, even in the summertime”.

About Ms. Kamal Khera – Kamal Khera is the Member of Parliament for Brampton West and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.  She is a registered nurse, community volunteer and a political activist.  Ms. Khera serves on the National Finance Committee as a non-voting member.

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Ascend Canada recognizes five leaders at 5th Annual Leadership Awards Gala

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

Tina Lee, the Chief Executive Officer of T&T Supermarkets, was among five individuals recognized for their personal dedication, career achievement, and contributions to the community at the 5th Annual Ascend Canada Leadership Awards.

Earlier this month, Lee was named Executive of the Year by Ascend Canada, a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and advance Pan-Asian talent.

Sponsored by TD, this award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to their organization; delivering business results, demonstrating leadership and being at the forefront of innovation. In 2014, Lee took the reins of the family business, the largest Asian grocery retailer in Canada. Under her leadership, the business has focused on growing their roots, and now set to expand its head office and open four new stores by the end of the 2018, bringing T&T’s total store count to 27. In February 2017, she was named to the Canada-US Council for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.

“Leadership is about being purpose driven and people oriented. T&T is so much more than just selling bananas and bok choy,” she said as she accepted her award. “We work hard to identify and amplify the emotional connection we have with our customers, and to make ‘Celebrate the Orient’ come to life.”  On stage and eight months pregnant, Tina said she has much to celebrate. The award coincides with the birth of her third baby and T&T’s 25th anniversary.

Ascend Canada hosts the annual awards as a way to celebrate leaders, as well as showcase Pan-Asian talent. The organization is working hard, particularly with its 18 corporate partners, to ensure diversity and inclusion isn’t an afterthought.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit organization, members of Ascend Canada are passionate about advancing inclusion. Ascend Canada reserves a spot on the gala stage for one of its own, and this year, the honours went to Avni Shah. She was recognized for her enthusiasm, passionate and generous dedication as part of Ascend Canada’s Operations group. She has worn several volunteer hats, one of which was to teach English to children in Guatemala. Avni is part of the TD Securities Internal Audit team.

Three other winners were recognized during the gala, each with extraordinary stories that inspire and make an impact to their communities:

•          Fahad Tariq was the recipient of the Rising Star Award. Sponsored by RBC, this award recognizes an individual under-30 years of age who has demonstrated early leadership qualities through personal performance and commitment to professional, volunteer, and educational opportunities. Tariq works as a Senior Associate in Equity Research at BMO Capital Markets, covering Fertilizer & Chemical stocks. He is also the Founder of Shift, a nonprofit energy initiative that converts animal waste into reliable, inexpensive energy in developing countries.

•          Samra Zafar was recognized as the Mentor of the Year. Sponsored by Manulife, this award recognizes a Pan-Asian individual who has provided significant guidance and leadership to an employee or several employees’ quality of life and professional development. Having fought her own battles of an arranged marriage, Samra has overcome major challenges to gain educational, personal and professional success and has become a source of inspiration to others. In addition to a successful career at RBC, she is Founder & Executive Director at Brave Beginnings, a Governor at University of Toronto, an author and international speaker.

•          Jahanzaib Ansari is the inaugural recipient of the Ascend Canada Innovator of the Year Award, which recognizes an individual who has used disruption and innovation to contribute to community and benefit the society in Canada. He is Co-Founder & CEO of Knockri, an IBM-backed artificial intelligence video recruiting tool that promises to disperse unconscious hiring biases. In 2015, Jahanzaib`s previous venture Sartoria Darzi, a fashion artisan tailoring house for men, was ranked as among the top 10 made to measure brands in Toronto.

Kelvin Tran, the president of Ascend Canada, says it’s important to celebrate leaders, particularly those of Pan-Asian descent, in order to create role models for tomorrow’s leaders now.

“We’re looking to shatter the barriers that limit us and provide leadership without ceilings. Leadership is about developing critical skills, sharing and solving challenges, and making diversity and inclusion a priority. It is important to recognize leaders and learn from their journey and be inspired. It takes a village and many years to develop leaders. I want the next generation to say ‘if they can do it, so can I.”

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