Brampton men among the best and brightest immigrants in Canada

BRAMPTON — Like thousands and thousands of other immigrants who have left their homelands seeking a better life for themselves and their families, Canada has been the land of opportunity for Brampton’s Naval Bajaj. When he arrived in the country many years ago from India, Bajaj set a number of goals. He wanted to establish himself in his new home, become an entrepreneur and find a way to give back to the country that had taken him in. As the youngest elected president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and a successful entrepreneur, Bajaj feels that he’s reached a number of those goals. And, he chalks up a great deal of his success to the opportunity that Canada provided him. “Anyone who comes here with a goal and stays focused on that goal will have success,” said Bajaj. “Those who keep working towards their goals will get to a day like this.” The day Bajaj was referring to was being recognized with an award at the 6th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, which are presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine. Bajaj and a number of his peers, including fellow Brampton resident Dr. Surinder Singh Khurana, were honored during a ceremony on Tuesday evening in Toronto. A second awards evening will be held on Thursday in Vancouver for the recipients who couldn’t attend the Toronto event. “It feels good but it’s not really about me,” said Bajaj. “To think that I came to Canada with just $600 in my pocket and after a few years I’m getting this award, it just shows how much opportunity there is in Canada.” Bajaj played a large role when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a number of delegates headed to India on a trade mission. He’s also passionate about helping youngsters and new immigrants become entrepreneurs and announced that the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for Excellence in Enterprise will open in Toronto in the next few months. Bajaj, meanwhile, wasn’t being recognized just for his business acumen. He’s also given generously to the community by fundraising for hospitals including Toronto General, Scarborough General and Brampton Civic. Dana Robbins, vice president and group publisher for Metroland South at Metroland Media Group, which publishes Canadian Immigrant magazine, spoke passionately about the invaluable contributions immigrants make to Canadian society each day. “Canada is a vast delta that’s enriched and renewed by the river of newcomers who flow through it,” said Robbins, who told the crowd he was proud to be able to attend the event that celebrated a number of “remarkable” and “inspiring” newcomers. Meanwhile, Khurana spoke about how he came to Canada in 2003 at the age of 45 and had to almost start from scratch to get his credentials up to the Canadian standard, despite having 22 years experience in India. He said it was a little strange to be back in school with a bunch of 20-somethings but he kept focused, worked hard and earned his degree from Western University. It was there that he found a new passion – teaching others. While at university, a number of the younger students came to him for advice and he started helping groups of them by sharing his knowledge and experience in dentistry. Soon after, he established the Ontario Simulation Training Centre for Foreign Trained Dentists in Malton. He’s director and main instructor at the centre that helps guide foreign-trained dentists through the process of getting licenced to practice in Canada. “It’s a great moment to be amongst so many great achievers and their unique success stories,” said Khurana after receiving his award. “I’ve always said that if you keep trying for something you will achieve it.” The popular awards program, which is supported by RBC Royal Bank, Chevrolet, the Toronto Star, Metro newspaper, Sing Tao, CBC Toronto and South Asian Focus, continues to grow in size and scope. This year’s program attracted 630 nominations from across the country and more than 40,000 votes were cast online. Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander thanked the recipients for their good work in their new home while saying that more needs to be done on the recognition of foreign credentials in Canada. “Today, people really come (to Canada) for the opportunity,” he said. “They come for both the quality of life and the economic opportunity that sustains it.”