PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday honoured the recipients of the third Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards (PMVA) at a special ceremony in Toronto. He was accompanied by Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
The Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards recognize two national recipients – one for lifelong achievement and one for an emerging leader – as well as 15 regional recipients, including individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The awards also highlight best practices in community leadership and encourage partnerships across sectors.
Two South Asians were among the regional award recipients:
* Raghbir Singh Bains (BC and the North)
* Dr. Syed Aslam Daud (Ontario)
The recipients were presented with medals, certificates and lapel pins during the ceremony. As part of their recognition package, each recipient will identify a not-for-profit organization to receive a one-time funding grant in their honour. Not-for-profit organizations identified by the 15 regional awards recipients will each receive $5,000, and those identified by the two national awards recipients will each receive $10,000.
The call for the 2015 nominations for the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards will be launched on April 13, 2015, and will run until June 30, 2015.
In 2014, Canada was ranked third in the World Giving Index.
“Canada ranks near the very top of the World Giving Index. Our generosity is evident abroad, but it is also plainly seen every day, right here at home. Contributing to their community is the primary motivation for Canadian volunteers, who gladly and freely give their time, energy and experience. I am pleased today to recognize these extraordinary individuals and organizations who are improving the lives of Canadians across the country,” said Harper.
“Social challenges are being tackled in new ways across the country. Local organizations could not achieve the incredible level of success they do, and Canadian communities would not be as vibrant if it weren’t for the talented, capable volunteers and charitable efforts of innovative organizations from coast to coast to coast.”
* Raghbir Singh Bains: According to the citation at last year’s Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, “Since 1990, Dr. Bains has worked tirelessly as a volunteer, community activist and educator to promote intercultural understanding and mutual respect. He has raised funds and mobilized support for the Children’s Hospital of Vancouver, the local United Way, the Surrey-Delta Indo-Canadian Senior’s Centre and Alcoholics Anonymous groups, inter alia. He has also spoken at seminars and conferences in Canada and India on topics such as HIV / AIDS awareness, bullying, racial discrimination and drug abuse.”
Bains in an email to the media said he is the “founder producer of the first of its kind ‘Encyclopaedia of Sikhism’ on multimedia technology in the world which was released by the then-Prime Minister of Canada in the Parliament House on December 11, 1996” and that he has set up “six ‘Multimedia Sikh Museums’ in the world where he used robotic and touch screen technology.”
* Dr. Syed Aslam Daud: According to a CBC profile: “Aslam first began volunteering as a medical student in 1984. Raised in Pakistan, Aslam saw a need to serve Pakistanis living in rural villages lacking access to medical care. He traveled out to these remote areas in Pakistan to treat people, many of whom had never seen a doctor before. He has never stopped helping ever since.
“Aslam founded the Canadian chapter of Humanity First in 2004 and is the executive director. Aslam divides his volunteer time between international disaster relief assistance and local projects. He manages a food bank in the GTA that delivers food to the doorsteps of needy – no questions asked. His latest challenge is to raise an additional four million dollars to complete the Humanity First Community Centre in Maple, Ontario. Aslam designed the centre and hopes it’ll serve newcomers and youth in his community through sports, counseling and volunteer opportunities.”