TORONTO, June 24, 2014 – South African-born celebrity entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den has been named one of this year’s RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants for not only her achievements, but her philanthropy as well. Other winners of the sixth annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards, presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine, include Macedonian-born Gradimir Pankov, artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Ugandan-born Farah Mohamed, president and CEO of the G(irls)20 Summit in Toronto, Indian-born child prodigy Sarthak Sinha of Calgary, and Bangladesh-born Manwar Khan, an everyday hero who intervened in a violent attack in Edmonton. The awards celebrate the inspiring stories and achievements of these and other notable immigrants to Canada.
“Every year, we have yet another amazing group of 25 winners. This year’s 25 are as diverse as they are interesting,” says Margaret Jetelina, editor of Canadian Immigrant Magazine. “Thanks to the people who nominated and voted for them, we have uncovered the inspiring stories of artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, volunteers and activists from across the country who are truly making Canada a better place.”
More than 630 nominations were received in just two months, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a diverse judging panel, including several past winners. More than 40,000 votes were cast online, making it the most popular year in the award’s history. The final 25 were chosen based on a combination of votes and a second round of judging.
The award winners will be honoured at an awards ceremony in Toronto on June 24 and on June 26 in Vancouver. The program is proudly supported by title sponsor RBC Royal Bank and associate sponsor Chevrolet. The awards program is also supported by the Toronto Star, Metro Newspaper, Sing Tao, CBC Toronto and South Asian Focus.
“This year’s winners truly exemplify the Canadian dream and are real examples of opportunity and diversity right here in Canada,” said Christine Shisler, director, Multicultural Markets, RBC. “These awards do more than just recognize 25 of the best. The RBC Top 25 Immigrant awards create a community for all Canadians who have been recognized as inspirational by their peers. Whether they are new to Canada, or celebrating 20 years in this country, we recognize all of the nominees and winners for their outstanding contributions and for making a difference.”
For the second year, associate sponsor Chevrolet will recognize one of the 25 winners with the Chevrolet Ingenuity Award for showing exceptional creativity and skill on their road to success. The winner will be announced at the Toronto ceremony.
“The people recognized by the RBC Top 25 Immigrant Awards have a true passion for our country, an inventive nature and are an inspiration to many,” said Paul Bailey, Advertising Manager, Chevrolet. “It takes a significant amount of resourcefulness and creativity to come to a new country and break cultural and social barriers to achieve great success. The Chevrolet Ingenuity Award was designed to recognize the efforts of a truly inspirational individual.”
Each of the RBC Top 25 award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation will be made towards a registered Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will also be featured on canadianimmigrant.ca/rbctop25 and in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant Magazine.
The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2014 (in alphabetical order):
Vivian Abboud (Edmonton/Lebanon) is a senior manager with Alberta Education, a business owner (Viva Café), an EdD candidate, and a community advocate who played a key role in the development of the Women of Advocacy Voice of Edmonton WAVE.
Akram Al-otumi (Halifax /Yemen) was an international student who turned his experiences into an innovative business, the Azal Student Agency to support immigrants and students in their transition.
Dalal Al-Waheidi (Toronto/Palestine) is executive director of global We Day, where she is spearheading the We Day-Free The Children’s signature domestic program.
Naval Bajaj (Brampton/India) is an entrepreneur, the youngest elected president of the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), and has led two trade missions to India.
Amit Chakma (London, ON /Bangladesh) is Western University’s 10th president and vice chancellor, and a passionate advocate of post-secondary education, especially for the important role international students play in Canada.