VANCOUVER: Winners of the 2013 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards — a people’s choice award that celebrates the untold stories of outstanding immigrants — were honoured at a ceremony in Vancouver on Wednesday, June 26.
Supported by title sponsor RBC Royal Bank and associate sponsor Chevrolet, the awards recognize remarkable and inspirational achievements by Canadian immigrants from across the country.
South Asians Sukhdev Singh, Sukhdev Toor, Dancer Wen Wei Wang, real estate developer and passionate fundraiser, Sing Lim Yeo, Tina Turner tribute artist and Filipina television personality Luisa Marshall and many other community leaders from across Canada are among this year’s winners.
Sukhdev singh, who came to Canada from India and is a Settlement Specialist in Mississauga, Ontario. In Canada for a mere three years, Sukhjit Singh, like any newcomer, has faced hardships and career challenges, but he found non-traditional ways of job hunting, and landed his first career position in just six months as a settlement worker at Peel Multicultural Council in Mississauga. “Even though I was equipped with information before landing, still a real experience is always a different thing than the virtual one,” he says.
“People mentioned that with a turban and beard, I will not get a job and no one will even call me for an interview. And, if they call at all, after looking at me, they will not hire me. But I saw a great opportunity in this situation as well. I was thinking that if my looks can be obstacle; it can be a positive point for some employers as well,” he says. Singh began toting around a copy of Canadian Immigrant magazine, which had featured him in an article about newcomers looking for jobs. When employers would ask him about himself, he would whip out the article that talked about his strengths and qualifications, impressing many interviewers with his unique approach.
Singh moved on in his career to work as a constituency assistant for an Ontario parliamentarian, before returning recently to his work at the Peel Multicultural Council.
“Being authentic and real in the workplace is my key to success” he says.
Another one of Singh’s beliefs is the benefits of volunteerism for newcomers to Canada. Since his arrival, he has been volunteering his time and energy with organizations like Volunteer MBC, Regional Municipality of Peel, Peel District School Board, Interfaith Council of Peel and more. “Meaningful volunteer work can give you an insight of how things work in Canada. Once you are in position to give back to the community, do that as soon as possible and make this a habit,” he says.
Sukhdev Toor who is a hotelier in Mississauga, Ontario, he had never imagined he’d become one of Toronto’s top hoteliers. Armed with an engineering degree from India, he also did not imagine that he would struggle to find employment after immigrating to Canada. He had to take up odd jobs, while juggling his MBA studies at the University of Waterloo. Toor’s life changed forever when he met up with a distant relative who owned a motel. Knowing little about the tourism industry (he had never even stayed in a hotel before), Toor acquired his first property in St. Catharines, Ontario. From there, he continued to buy, sell, develop and invest in other properties.
“When I first came to Canada, I knew I had to hit the ground running. I came from a good background in India and had received an excellent education so it was expected that I would excel when I immigrated. When events did not transpire as I planned, I was still motivated to overcome the setback and move forward. At the time I also had a young family to support and while this added pressure, it also inspired me. I wanted to give my children a strong upbringing and felt motivated by my parents who had faith that I would overcome the obstacles I faced,” he says.
Today, Toor is president and CEO of Manga Hotels, a privately held company based in Mississauga that counts eight hotels in Canada and the United States. It wasn’t always easy for the affable Toor.
In addition to running a successful company and employing hundreds of Canadians, Toor has continually given back to the community over the years. Having supported sports teams, contributed to hospitals and donated to numerous causes, he has impacted much more than just the tourism industry in Canada.
Toor has only one mantra for success — persistence. “You can never lose your vision and you have to push through obstacles. Dream big and you can achieve it. Canada is a land of many opportunities and it is up to you what you do with them,” he says.
The complete list of winners:
Aleksandra Nasteska (Montreal, Quebec), Aminata Sillah (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Anar Popatia (Coquitlam, British Columbia), Ginni Sethi (Toronto, Ontario), Indira Samarasekera (Edmonton, Alberta) Izzeldin Abuelaish (Toronto, Ontario), Dr. Jawahar (Jay) Kalra Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Leticia LaRosa Charlottetown, Luis Guillermo Guerra Coquitlam, British Columbia Luisa Marshall Vancouver, British Columbia, Mamdouh Shoukri Toronto, Ontario, Michael Tulloch Richmond Hill, Ontario Narine Dat Sookram Kitchener, Ontario Rany Ibrahim Halifax, Nova Scotia Sara Eftekhar Vancouver, British Columbia Sharifa Khan Toronto, Ontario Sing Lim Yeo Vancouver, British Columbia Srinivasan Suppiramaniam Markham, Ontario Steve Gupta Toronto, Ontario Steve Nash Victoria, British Columbia, Sukhdev Toor Mississauga, Ontario, Sukhjit Singh Mississauga, Ontario Wen Wei Wang Vancouver, British Columbia Winnie Wong Toronto, Ontario Zahra Al Harazi Calgary, Alberta