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Athlete, musicians, artists and community leaders among the winners of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards

RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards
Basketball star Steve Nash, dancer Wen Wi Wang and community activist Izeldin Abuelaish among the 2013 recipients

TORONTO, June 20, 2013 - NBA All-Star and philanthropist Steve Nash, dancer and choreographer Wen Wei Wang, physician and activist Izzeldin Abuelaish and other community leaders from across Canada are among the winners of the fifth annual 2013 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards, presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine. The awards celebrate the inspiring stories and achievements of immigrants to Canada.

"These 25 award winners are a diverse group, ranging from artists to philanthropists to entrepreneurs from a variety of ethnicities across the country," says Margaret Jetelina, editor of Canadian Immigrant Magazine. "Each of these winners has an inspiring story about overcoming challenges and making their country a better place to live. We are proud to present our top 25 award to these very deserving recipients."

Over 600 nominations were received in just two months, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a panel of judges comprised of past winners and dignitaries. More than 30,000 votes were cast online, the highest number received in the award's history.

The Top 25 winners will be honoured at awards ceremonies on June 20 in Toronto 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, Sing Tao, CBC Toronto and South Asian Focus.

"These winners are role models, not just for new Canadians, but for all Canadians who will be inspired by the valuable contribution these individuals have made to their communities," said Paul Sy, director, Multicultural Markets, RBC. "These extraordinary individuals are living proof that anyone can make a difference and contribute to the rich fabric of Canadian life."

The RBC Top 25 award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation towards a registered Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will be featured on and in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

This year, Associate sponsor Chevrolet will recognize one of the 25 winners with the Chevrolet Ingenuity Award for showing exceptional creativity and skill on his or her road to success. The winner will be announced at the Toronto ceremony on June 20.

"The Canadians recognized by the RBC Top 25 Immigrant Awards are passionate, innovative and resourceful," said Marc Comeau, vice president, sales, service and marketing for General Motors of Canada. "At Chevrolet, we are proud to celebrate these remarkable individuals and their ability to inspire others to reach for their dreams."

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2013 are (in alphabetical order):

Izzeldin Abuelaish (Toronto / Palestine) is a physician, professor and author of the book I Shall Not Hate. He established the Daughters for Life Foundation, in memory of his daughters killed in war. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zahra Al-Harazi (Calgary / Yemen) is CEO and creative director of Foundry Communications. She has been recognized with many awards including being named one of the most powerful women in Canada. Al-Harazi gives back through pro-bono work and charitable events, and is a sought-after speaker.

Sara Eftekhar (Vancouver / Iran) is the B.C Youth Ambassador for the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), and is an avid activist and volunteer. She is also the president and co-founder of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadian Youth Group, all while being a nursing student at UBC.

Luis Guillermo Guerra (Vancouver / Mexico) has helped more than 10,000 newcomers in the last five years transition into careers in Canada through his work with the Skills Connect Program for Immigrants.

Steve Gupta (Toronto / India) is president and CEO of Easton's Group of Companies, which has a hotel portfolio that spans across Ontario and Quebec. He has also been recognized for his humanitarian work.

Rany Ibrahim (Halifax, Nova Scotia / Egypt) is the marketing manager with the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, promoting immigration to the Atlantic province. He volunteers to further help immigrants to Canada, and is a freelance writer, teacher and speaker.

Jawahar (Jay) Kalra (Saskatoon / India) is a clinical researcher, educator, health care provider, and active leader and community builder. He is involved in organizations such as Saskatoon Folkfest and the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, among others.

Sharifa Khan (Toronto / Hong Kong) is a pioneer in the field of multicultural marketing. She established and is currently president and CEO of Balmoral Marketing. She also volunteers on a variety of boards and with community organizations.

Leticia La Rosa (Charlottetown / Philippines) is an avid volunteer who is also one of the founding members of the National Organization of Immigrants and Visible Minority Women's Organization of Canada. She also initiated the founding of the Filipino-Canadian Association of Prince Edward Island.

Sing Lim Yeo (Vancouver / Malaysia) is a developer and real estate broker, whose company is the largest independent real estate brokerage in Western Canada. He is a passionate fundraiser who has raised funds for many charities and established the B.C. Children's Hospital Realtors Care Endowment Fund.

Luisa Marshall (Vancouver / Philippines) is as an internationally acclaimed Tina Turner tribute artist and TV show host of Simply the Best, a local independent production on the Shaw Multicultural Channel 116. She often uses her talents to various charitable causes all over the world.

Steve Nash (Vancouver / South Africa) is well-known as a NBA basketball star, entrepreneur of fitness clubs and philanthropist behind the Steve Nash Foundation, which aims to promote health in kids.

Aleksandra Nasteska (Montreal / Macedonia) co-founded the We Canada campaign for Canadian leadership at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The highlight of the campaign was a cross-Canada tour, known as Dialogues and Action for Earth Summit 2012, which she led and facilitated.

Anar Popatia (Coquitlam / Kenya) is a partner in a family wealth management practice under Assante Wealth Management and believes in volunteering her time where possible, such as for the Aga Khan Foundation.

Indira Samarasekera (Edmonton / Sri Lanka) is the 12th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta, and is recognized as one of Canada's leading metallurgical engineers for her groundbreaking work on process engineering of materials.

Ginni Sethi (Toronto / India) is president of the Grand Victorian Convention Centre and Radisson Plaza Mississauga, and chairperson of Black Diamond Entertainments. A strong believer in philanthropy, she has generously supported numerous charities through the Sethi Foundation.

Mamdouh Shoukri (Toronto / Egypt) is president and vice-chancellor of York University. In addition, he is a member of the board of directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, Cancer Care Ontario and the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation.

Aminata Sillah (Winnipeg / Sierra Leone) ran a sewing factory in Freetown, and after fleeing to Canada, she began sewing clothes for other African Canadians and started volunteering with inner-city women in downtown Winnipeg, teaching them how to sew through the Multicultural Sewing Program.

Sukhjit Singh (Mississauga / India) arrived only three years ago, but has achieved career success working in a constituency office, and strives to help other newcomers through his own website and volunteerism.

Narine Dat Sookram (Kitchener / Guyana) is the founder and president of Active Vision Charity Association, which provides books and school supplies to Guyanese youth, promotes Guyana's rich culture in Canada and offers basic help to newcomers choosing to settle in the Region of Waterloo.

Srinivasan Suppiramaniam (Markham / Sri Lanka) is CEO of Ceylon Broadcasting Inc. and has guided programming that helps newcomers and promotes Southeast Asian art and culture.

Sukhdev Toor (Mississauga / India) is president and CEO of Manga Hotels, and is constantly giving back to the community, having supported many sports teams, donated to many causes and contributed thousands to hospitals. He also developed Toronto's first LEED Certified hotel.

Michael Tulloch (Richmond Hill / Jamaica) was the first black judge appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2012, just 15 years after being called to the bar. He has also mentored students across Ontario, including at underprivileged schools in Toronto, and founded the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation, a charity that helps at-risk youth.

Wen Wei Wang (Vancouver / China) is a dancer who has emerged as an important Canadian choreographer through his own company Wen Wei Dance. He is an active mentor and teacher, nurturing the next generation of dance artists.

Winnie Wong (Toronto / Hong Kong) is a respected barrister and small claims court deputy judge. She has also volunteered in many charitable and non-profit organizations, and is a speaker and writer on topics of law.

About Canadian Immigrant and
Attracting more than 287,000 readers each month and over 60,000 unique visits a month online, Canadian Immigrant is distributed in Toronto and Vancouver and helps new Canadians build a successful life and home in Canada. Its mandate to inform, educate and motivate provides easy-to-access content for newcomers looking for information from careers, education and settling in to culture and business. Our website,, offers daily editorial, forums, tools and resources to help newcomers across Canada. Canadian Immigrant is a division of Metroland Media Group, a dynamic media company with more than 100 community and daily newspapers in print and online, as well as innovative websites including,, and

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 are among the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, and investor services and wholesale banking on a global basis. We employ approximately 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 15 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 44 other countries. For more information, please visit

RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2012, we contributed more than $95 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $64 million and $31 million in sponsorships.

About Chevrolet in Canada
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at, on Facebook at or by following @ChevroletCanada on Twitter.

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For more information, contact:

Canadian Immigrant
Sanjay Agnihotri, 905 454-4344 Ext 227,

Matt Gierasimczuk, 416 974-2124,

Adria MacKenzie, 905 644-6044,

Dyversity Communications
Irene Tang, 905 907-6911,