ICCC Recognizes its Stars at its Annual Winter Gala
By A Correspondent
QE-II Diamond Jubilee medals presented
Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals to its nominees at the Winter Gala 2012 held December 7 at the Grand Victorian Convention Centre.
Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister for Natural Resources, and Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister for International Cooperation honoured the Chamber’s nominees with the medals. Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State for Sports, Hon. Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Asha Seth, Senator, Preeti Saran, Consul General of India in Toronto, and Her Excellency Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga, were special guests at the reception.
Among the recipients of the medals are members of the ICCC who have contributed significantly to making the Chamber one of the largest Indo-Canadian business and Diaspora organizations in Canada. In addition to these members, the ICCC also honoured members of the Indo-Canadian Diaspora who have contributed to enhancing the profile of the community. In fact, the ICCC had themed its annual Winter Gala celebration as ‘Recognizing our Stars’.
Explaining the basis of the selection process in his Presidential address, Naval Bajaj, President, ICCC, said that when the Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston’s office asked the Chamber to chose its nominees for the medal, the Chamber’s collective leadership decided to honour individuals who have made a sterling contribution to the Chamber and to the Indo-Canadian community.
He hastened to emphasize that the number of people who have contributed to the growth of the Chamber and to the community is substantially larger than those who were honoured at the event. “I wish we had more medals to honour some more of our Chamber’s and our community’s leaders,” Naval Bajaj noted.
Additionally, he also explained that the Canadian establishment had already recognized many people before ICCC could do so, and many of the Chamber’s past presidents, directors, members and supporters have already received the medal. “This is an indication of how well integrated our community is in Canada; it is also a measure of how successful we are,” Naval Bajaj observed.
The highlight of the medal presentation ceremony was the march to the presentation podium of the recipients accompanied by the band from the 32 Service Battalion of the National Defense. The presence of the band, led by Pipe Major Michael More, playing traditional bagpipes and drums, turned the presentation ceremony into an august occasion that was cherished by the audience.
Hari Panday, former President, ICCC, and Lieutenant-Colonel (Honorary), 32 Service Battalion, National Defence, was instrumental in arranging for the armed service personnel band to be involved with the medal presentation ceremony.
ICCC’s annual Winter Gala is a marquee event that saw over participation of over 600 guests that included prominent entrepreneurs, professionals, government officials, academics, community leaders, media representatives among others. The guests were enthralled by Divya Kumar’s dance troupe’s fusion dances that were a fusion of western and Indian popular music and dance ensembles.
Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, said, “Canada is immensely proud of its relationship with India — proud to call itself friend to a nation that is becoming one of the world's great economic powers. The warmth of the relationship between Canada and India is bolstered commercially by a strong complementarity of interests. Canadian exports to India were up more than 20% last year, to a record $2.6 billion.”
He also lauded the role of the Indo-Canadians in fostering the bilateral relationship between Canada and India. He observed, “Throughout my time in India, whether I was meeting with Government Ministers, with representatives of their natural resources industry, or with academics — a common theme throughout was the connection to Indo-Canadians here in Canada. This community has done more than make its mark in Canada — Indo-Canadians have cemented the foundation of the Indo-Canadian friendship, and are a key driver of the relationship in numerous endeavours between our two countries. Economic relationships can truly flourish when they are supported by strong personal relationships.”
Minister Julian Fantino, in his speech, emphasized the role of the Indo-Canadian community to the fabric of the Canadian society. Preeti Saran, Consul General of India to Toronto and Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of Mississauga, also spoke on the occasion.
The sponsors for the event included Thapliyal and Rai, the entertainment sponsors for the evening; Air Wick, Brar Sweets and Minaaz Jewellery for the gift bags; Johnnie Walker for the tasting booth at the venue; Minaaz Jewellery and Johnnie Walker also sponsored the raffle prizes.
Several elected representatives including Patrick Brown, MP and the chairman of the Canada-India Parliamentary Association, along with other members of parliament, members of provincial parliament and councillors were also present at the event.