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Canada has spoken: Top 25 Immigrants of 2011

Canadian Immigrant Magazine and RBC Honour Canada's Top 25

TORONTO, May 16, 2011 - A famous Dragon investor, a former Toronto Argonaut coach and an influential former Cabinet minister are among the winners of the third annual Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine and sponsored by RBC. This national people's choice award celebrates the untold inspiring stories and remarkable achievements of immigrants to Canada.

More than 25,000 Canadians voted online for their top choices, up 15,000 votes from two years ago. The award recipients will be honoured at ceremonies held in Toronto on May 16 and in Vancouver on May 26.

"The number of outstanding nominees in our third annual Top 25 awards program has made it profoundly clear that immigrants to Canada are having a positive impact on the country," says Margaret Jetelina, editor of Canadian Immigrant Magazine. "The stories of the 25 who were voted in as this year's winners are inspirational and serve as wonderful examples for all newcomers."

The Top 25 winners will receive a commemorative certificate and lapel pin, as well as a $500 donation towards an authorized Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will be featured on and in the June 2011 edition of Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

"On behalf of RBC, it's an honour to celebrate the award winners," said Camon Mak, director, Multicultural Markets, RBC. "Harnessing the strength of our diversity not only enriches the communities where we live and work every day, but gives Canada a true competitive advantage globally. We hope the winners' stories will inspire others to follow their dreams and achieve their full potential."

This year's awards program received more than 500 nominations over a two-month period, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a panel of Canadian Immigrant Magazine judges. The awards program was also supported by the Toronto Star, Metro and Sing Tao.

The Top 25 Canadian Immigrants 2011:

  • Ahmed Abdullahi (Edmonton, Alberta/Somalia) is a youth and family counselor. He uses a positive approach to help immigrant youth adjust to Canadian society. He works at the Edmonton Mennonite Community Centre for Newcomers.

  • Leticia Adair (Saint John, New Brunswick/Mexico) is a refugee support co-ordinator who has worked with refugees and newcomers, without expecting any remuneration.

  • Liliana Angarita (Toronto, Ontario/Columbia) is a human rights activist originally from Colombia. As a director at the Social and Communitarian Centre, she is educating the public on matters relating to human rights.

  • Ari Asmar (Edmonton, Alberta/Iraq) is a master electrician. Although he's been in Canada less than 10 years, he devotes lots of time to volunteering in his community, such as with a YMCA newcomers program.

  • Jean Augustine (Toronto, Ontario/Grenada) has been a formidable force in Canadian politics. The former member of Parliament and Cabinet member introduced Black History Month and is now Ontario's Fairness Commissioner.

  • Baljit Bawa (Brampton, Ontario/India) is an IT professional, but it's his volunteer work that makes him shine. Bawa has volunteered for various organizations like United Way,, PC Kids Charity, BMO Fountain of Hope and President's Choice Children's Charity.

  • Michael 'Pinball' Clemons (Toronto, Ontario/United States) played football for the Canadian Football League before becoming coach of the Toronto Argonauts. Clemons was the first black head coach to win a Grey Cup championship.

  • Guilherme Dias (Mississauga, Ontario/India) is director of strategic talent management for Pitney Bowes Canada. He has worked toward hiring and development of immigrant talent in the industry.

  • Audrey D'Souza-Moraes (Nobleton, Ontario/Uganda) who owned a successful wedding business and a learning centre for 10 years, was a teacher, principal and now runs a collection agency. She helped build, name and open the new St. Mary's school and Parish in Nobleton.

  • Esa Para Esananda (Mississauga, Ontario/Sri Lanka) has served on the boards of several community organizations and has taught at schools through Junior Achievement Inc.

  • Karim Hakimi (Toronto, Ontario/Iran) is the founder and owner of Hakim Optical in Toronto. He has donated hundreds of thousands of pairs of eyeglasses through Rotary Club and Lions International for more than 40 years.

  • Robert Herjavec (Toronto, Ontario/Croatia) is known as the nice dragon on the TV show Dragon's Den, nurturing the growth of other entrepreneurs. The businessman built Brak Systems that he subsequently sold to AT&T Canada for an estimated $100 million.

  • Alan Ho (Markham, Ontario/Hong Kong) is an entrepreneur and city councillor. He also owns an apparel manufacturing company and also dedicates time to volunteering in the community in everything from Scouts to softball to politics.

  • Toshi Jackson (Calgary, Alberta/United States) began a vocal and performing school and established the performing group Toshi Jackson and Silhouettes, an early practitioner of live Motown music in Calgary, while also giving back to the community.

  • Mike Jang (Vancouver, B.C./China) is an entrepreneur who has not only built a successful business, but also has helped improve his hometown, particularly Chinatown, with various initiatives and fundraising efforts.

  • Mythili Kalyanasundaram (Ottawa, Ontario/India) is a high school mathematics teacher who initiated the Asian Blood Donor Clinic in her city. Service to humanity is important to her, and she has received many awards for her community work.

  • Ihor Kozak (Oshawa, Ontario/Ukraine) is an engineer who has served the country as a decorated officer in the Canadian Forces and is an active volunteer in the Ukrainian Canadian community.

  • Aditya Mohan (Surrey, B.C./India) is a life insurance agent by day, but in his spare time, the passionate he works to fight immigration fraud at a grassroots level.

  • Pyarali Nanji (Markham, Ontario/Uganda) is a philanthropic entrepreneur. Pyarali Nanji has been a recognized philanthropist to health care institutions in Toronto and Montreal for the past 15 years. He has generously supported Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, North York General Hospital, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Homewood Health Centre and St. Mary's Hospital in Ontario.

  • Gautam Nath (Toronto, Ontario/India) is a marketing executive who succeeded rapidly after landing in Canada. He makes every effort to share his message of making it in the country by mentoring other newcomers.

  • Nick (Naeem) Noorani (Vancouver, B.C./India) is the founder and former publisher of Canadian Immigrant magazine. He is an author and a motivational speaker. He is also known as a social entrepreneur with a focus on helping immigrants in Canada settle in and succeed.

  • Royson Ng (Markham, Ontario/Malaysia) immigrated to Canada in 1990 and is now the president of Samtack Inc., a company with an annual revenue of more than $100 million. He sits on the Toronto Board of Trade as director to promote multiculturalism into the mainstream.

  • Victor Oh (Mississauga, Ontario/Singapore) is president of Wyford Holdings Ltd. Originally from Singapore, he actively assists newcomers to the Peel Region to open businesses and integrate. He received the Government of Canada's prestigious Citation for Citizenship.

  • Alex Sangha (Delta, B.C./United Kingdom) is a social worker. He is a vocal advocate for the marginalized and oppressed in society and co-founder of Mindset (Mental Health Education, Awareness and Support) at the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society.

  • Zulima Wesso (St. Catharines, Ontario/Colombia) is director of Latin publication Kiddo Magazine, an architect and interior designer. Wesso is also co-founder of Luna Art Club for children.

About the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards
Canadian Immigrant Magazine, a print and online magazine serving new immigrants to Canada, in association with RBC, is pleased to present the "Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2011" - a people's choice award that seeks to uncover and celebrate the untold stories and remarkable achievements of outstanding Canadian immigrants from all walks of life. To view this year's winners, visit

About Canadian Immigrant Magazine and
Attracting more than 325,000 readers each month in print and online, Canadian Immigrant Magazine helps new Canadians build a successful life and home during their first years in Canada. Its mandate is to inform, educate and motivate and connect by providing hands-on, easy-to-access content for newcomers looking for information, from careers, education and settling-in, to culture, money and business. The monthly print publication is distributed in Toronto and Vancouver. offers tools and resources that help newcomers across Canada and the globe. Canadian Immigrant Magazine is a division of Star Media Group, which is broadly based with interests in print, digital and broadcast media, led by its flagship property, the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, which is read in print and online ( by 2.8 million readers every week.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under the master brand name RBC. We are Canada's largest bank as measured by assets and market capitalization, and among the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial service companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment banking and transaction processing services on a global basis. We employ approximately 79,000 full- and part-time employees who serve close to 18 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 56 other countries. For more information, please visit

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For more information, please contact:

Canadian Immigrant
Sanjay Agnihotri, 416-933-3411

Jill Quinn, 416-313-8121