Hari B. Varshney and Dr. Saida Rasul among 16 exceptional civic leaders recognized with Order of British Columbia

Hari B. Varshney and Dr. Saida Rasul flanked by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon and Premier Christy Clark.  Photos by Chandra Bodalia
Dr. Saida Rasul and Hari B. Varshney flanked by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon and Premier Christy Clark.
Photos by Chandra Bodalia

TWO South Asians – Hari B. Varshney and Dr. Saida Rasul, both of Vancouver – were among the 16 exceptional civic leaders who were recognized on Monday in Victoria at Government House with the Province’s highest honour, the Order of British Columbia. Three recipients unable to attend the 2014 ceremony were also honoured.

“For 26 years, the Order of British Columbia has recognized the remarkable accomplishments and efforts by extraordinary British Columbians,” said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. “This year we honour British Columbians from a variety of fields, each recipient illustrating the positive difference just one person can make in the lives of many.”

“The Order of British Columbia recognizes British Columbians whose positive impact is felt throughout the province and, in some cases, the world,” said Premier Christy Clark. “From inventing the AbleWalker so that seniors can remain active, or connecting people across cultures, this year’s recipients make a difference in their communities. On behalf of all British Columbians, I want to thank them for everything they do to make B.C. a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.”

This year’s recipients are:

* Ron Burnett, C.M. of Vancouver – Distinguished academic in media, arts and communications * Tim Collings of Surrey – Inventor of the V-Chip to filter inappropriate TV content

* Kerry and  Ginny Dennehy of Whistler – Champions for depression awareness and youth suicide prevention

*Jane Dyson of Vancouver – Advocate for people with disabilities in B.C.

* Al B. Etmanski, C.M., M.S.M of Surrey – Driving force in social innovation and accessibility initiatives

* Chief Robert Joseph of North Vancouver – Leader dedicated to renewing relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians

* Barry Lapointe of Kelowna – Visionary aviation entrepreneur and community mentor

* Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia of West Vancouver – Inspirational community leader and philanthropist

* Dr. Saida Rasul of Vancouver – Dentist and volunteer for improving the lives of the less fortunate

* Norman J. Rolston of Langley – Inventor of the Able Walker for mobility-impaired people

* Jim Shepard of Vancouver – Business leader and philanthropist

* Tamara Taggart of Vancouver – Volunteer supporting health care, the well-being of children and people with disabilities

* Hari B. Varshney of Vancouver – Business leader, volunteer and philanthropist

* Sing Lim Yeo of Vancouver – Long-time volunteer and philanthropist

* Melvin N. Zajac, C.M. of Vancouver – Fundraiser for children with special needs and seniors with disabilities.

Three recipients, Donald Lindsay, Rudy North and Lorne Segal, were also invested, having missed last year’s ceremony.

Over the years, government has worked to increase awareness of the Province’s highest honour so that men and women from all eligible categories learn of the opportunity. Government also relies on community members and organizations to help identify and honour outstanding citizens. The Province has received over 5,000 nominations for the Order of British Columbia in 26 years.

This year, 249 British Columbians were nominated for the Order of British Columbia, an 18% increase over last year and one of the highest since its inaugural year in 1989. More than half the nominations came from the Lower Mainland, with the remaining coming from other regions throughout the Province.

Since its inception, 386 British Columbians have been appointed to the O.B.C. Members have been appointed from all regions of the province and in numbers generally proportionate to a region’s population. For example, 61% of the appointees have come from the Lower Mainland / Southwest region, which has 62% of the population. Similarly, the North has 4% of the population and 4% of the appointees are from that region.



Hari B. Varshney of Vancouver:

Hari Varshney is a leading business person who, through his vision, tireless commitment, initiative and philanthropy, has made a significant and sustainable impact throughout British Columbia.

Hari is the founder of Varshney Capital, a merchant banking and venture capital firm which has contributed significantly to the economy of B.C., particularly in resources and technology. The firm’s holdings have employed hundreds of British Columbians.

Born in rural India, Hari arrived in Vancouver in 1967 with less than $100 to his name to accept an MBA scholarship from UBC. He was the first Indo-Canadian to achieve a Chartered Accountant designation and the first to achieve the Fellowship designation (FCA) from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC.

Hari has been a leader in the community, multiculturalism, education and in developing new leaders to strengthen the B.C. economy. He volunteers and contributes financially to a multitude of organizations and numerous charitable endeavours at universities, hospitals and temples.

Hari has brought his considerable leadership to help link academic, clinical, business and philanthropic leaders toward the goal of finding health-care solutions that lead to a healthier, more productive population. He has received many awards including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.



Dr. Saida Rasul of Vancouver:

Dr. Saida Rasul is a dentist and community volunteer focused on the improvement of the lives of the less fortunate in British Columbia and in many other countries.

During her tenure on the board of governors of SFU, Saida stewarded capital projects in excess of $200 million and championed the creation of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Cultures and Societies. With her husband, Firoz, Saida’s philanthropy includes gifts of nearly $12 million to the BC Cancer Agency, SFU, UBC, United Way and BC Children’s Hospital, among others.

Saida is a volunteer to the Aga Khan University. She has helped set up two preventive dental programs as part of the hospital systems in East Africa and in Pakistan and is working with volunteers to set up a diploma of dental hygiene program to train students who will go back and improve the oral health and general health of their rural communities.

In recognition of her sustained community contributions over three decades, she has received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from SFU, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and recent recognition by the British Columbia and Canadian Dental Associations.