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Celebrating 10 years of inspirational newcomer achievements

The 2018 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners include NHL hockey dad, comedic actor, doctor, senator, and an app entrepreneur

Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards

TORONTO, June 19, 2018 - What does a hockey dad of three NHL stars, a mental health advocate, and an auto-dealer/Raptors “superfan” have in common? They all were once newcomers to Canada and have contributed to their communities through leadership and philanthropy, and now have been selected as winner in this year’s 10th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. The winners are being presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine and proudly sponsored by RBC Royal Bank.

From coast to coast, the 2018 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants are a reflection of Canadian culture, diversity, and nation-building spirit. From Karl Subban, an educator who has guided his three sons to NHL stardom, to Senator Ratna Omidvar, who has been a lifelong diversity advocate, to Dr. Saroj Niraula, an oncologist and researcher to just name a few.

For the last 10 years, the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards have highlighted stories of Canadian immigrants who have demonstrated incredible contributions and achievements in Canada. In addition to this year’s top 25 winners, 250 winners have been honoured over the last decade with this incredible achievement.

“Celebrating 10 years is a true milestone for our awards, and we couldn’t be prouder of the amazing immigrants who form this year’s RBC Top 25,” says Margaret Jetelina, editor, Canadian Immigrant magazine.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will be honoured at ceremonies in Toronto today, and in Vancouver on June 27. In addition to the top 25 winners, two winners will also be selected for special recognition, the RBC Entrepreneur Award and the Youth Award.

Kundan Joshi, is the fourth annual recipient of the RBC Entrepreneur Award for excellence in entrepreneurship.

Philippines-born Loizza Aquino, 18, is the second annual Youth Award winner. From Winnipeg, she is the founder of the youth-led non-profit organization called Peace of Mind, which focuses on mental health advocacy.

“The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards celebrate the outstanding accomplishments and leadership of newcomers across Canada. Now in its tenth year and with over 250 newcomers recognized, the Awards highlight our country’s diversity, and the contributions and positive impact newcomers have been making in our communities. Congratulations to all winners and nominees,” says Ivy Chiu, Senior Director, Newcomer Strategy at RBC.

Hundreds of nominations were received, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a diverse judging panel of past winners. Nearly 60,000 online votes were cast. The 25 winners were chosen based on a combination of votes and a second round of judging.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation will be made toward a registered Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will also be featured online at and in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant magazine. The awards program is supported by the Toronto Star, Metro, Omni, City TV, and SingTao.

NEW: Settlement Agency Award

Concurrent with the RBC Top 25 campaign this year, the Settlement Agency Award was introduced this year to recognize the amazing work immigrant settlement agencies are doing to help newcomers integrate and succeed in Canada. We invited nominations from across the country and the nominated agencies were posted for an online voting process. The winner of the first Settlement Agency Award is ISSofBC. Read more about the winning agency on the Canadian Immigrant website.

The RBC Top 25
The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2018 are listed in alphabetical order below and include current city residence and home country in parentheses. Full biographies are available on the Canadian Immigrant website.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2018:

Margaret Adu (Calgary/Ghana) is the owner and founder of Aomega Group Inc., a company that combined her background in architecture and health care to build and manage personal care homes. She has also been president with the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Calgary.

Pooneh Alizadeh (North Vancouver/Iran) is artistic director of Academy of Middle Eastern Dance, where she teaches, choreographs and uses dance as a form of therapy, including with Deaf dancers. She also shares her passion for dance as a volunteer at community events.

Mohammed Alsaleh (Vancouver/Syria) is a Syrian refugee advocate, Tedx Talk speaker and refugee sponsorship trainer in B.C. He travels across the province providing information and training for the refugee private sponsorship community.

Loizza Aquino (Winnipeg; Toronto/Philippines) is the Youth Award winner of 2018. The 18-year-old University of Toronto student started a non-profit organization called Peace of Mind Canada, to raise awareness and dialogue about mental health.
Sara Asalya (Toronto/Palestine) founded the Newcomer Students’ Association of Ryerson to support refugee and newcomer students, including through a large-scale conference. She is also the student engagement and leadership assistant at Ryerson University.

Harbhajan Singh Athwal (New Westminster, B.C./India), a retired millworker, is president of Khalsa Diwan Society Sukh Sagar in New Westminster, B.C., through which he organizes programs for youth, disaster relief campaigns and other humanitarian initiatives.

Nav Bhatia (Mississauga/India) is known as the Official Toronto Raptor’s Superfan and community ambassador. He’s also a successful car dealer and philanthropist. He founded the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation to build basketball courts and host camps for kids.

Roberto Campanella (Toronto/Italy) is a former dancer with National Ballet of Canada, artistic director of ProArteDanza and a sought-after choreographer for TV and film, including for the recent Oscar-winning movie, The Shape of Water.

Kundan Joshi (Mississauga/India) is the RBC Entrepreneur Award winner of 2018. He is the founder and CEO of TheAppLabb, a product innovation firm for cutting-edge apps, including AI. He also sits on various boards and is a mentor for immigrants and youth.

Isabel Kanaan (Toronto/Philippines) is an actor best known for CBC’s Air Farce, but she also does films and stage work that connect to her Filipino culture, particularly through the Carlos Bulosan Theatre in Toronto. She also teaches improv to youth through Second City.

Dr. Raj Khanuja (Brampton/India) is a prominent dentist with seven locations in southern Ontario, who has received numerous accolades and awards for offering an annual pro-bono clinic for people who can’t afford dental care.

Sophie Lavieri (North Vancouver/Venezuela) is a senior lecturer at Simon Fraser University, and founder of an outreach program called Science in Action, which promotes sciences to young children. She also founded a choir, Chem-semble, which performs at retirement homes.

Kin Wah Leung (Richmond, B.C./China) is president and founding director of Kin’s Farm Market, a multi-million-dollar produce business with 32 locations around B.C. He is a generous philanthropist and is passionate about supporting his immigrant employees to success.
Tinashe Mafukidze (Toronto/Zimbabwe) is an impact designer, a prominent changemaker and a senior manager at Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange (YouthREX), at York University, which aims to support the wellbeing Ontario’s youth programs.

Mario Monteiro (Guelph/Portugal) is a full professor at Guelph University and one of the world’s top 50 influencers in vaccine research. He has identified key molecules capable of preventing bacterial infections responsible for deadly diarrhea in humans.

Dr. Saroj Niraula (Winnipeg/Nepal) is a leading cancer doctor and researcher at CancerCare Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg. He is the leader of the breast disease site in the provincial cancer institute. He also volunteers to mentor doctors from low-income countries.

Dr. Boluwaji Ogunyemi (St. John’s, Nfld./Nigeria) is chief dermatology resident at University of British Columbia. He mentors youth, advocates for diversity, and is a leader in various boards and organizations. He is returning to Newfoundland to work as a medical dermatologist.

Senator Ratna Omidvar (Toronto/India) is a longtime diversity advocate and leader, who was appointed a senator in 2016. She was previously president of the Maytree Foundation and founding executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University.

Bernardo Riveros (Toronto/Colombia) is a coach, speaker and trainer, under the banner Global Impact Leadership Consultants. He also chairs their non-profit arm CanadaForward Foundation. He is also a co-founder of International Language Academy of Canada (ILAC).

Priti Shah (Coquitlam, B.C./India) is an educator, facilitator, social justice activist and humanitarian who has developed more than 350 workshops that challenge gender and racial inequality, notably the Pathways to Leadership for Immigrant Women.

Naseem Somani (Brampton/Rwanda; Zaire) is CEO of Dynacare. Under her leadership, she helped transform the company into Canada’s largest provider of medical laboratory services. She has also established the company’s corporate giving arm and scholarship fund.

Karl Subban (Nobleton, Ont./Jamaica) is best known as the dad of three NHL hockey players: P.K., Malcolm and Jordan. He’s also a retired principal, speaker and author. His recent book, How We Did, was an instant hit and will be in paperback this fall.

Josephine Victoria Yam (Toronto/Philippines) is a lawyer with Baker & McKenzie and senior legal counsel with the Alberta government. She is also CEO and co-founder of Building Breakthrough Boards (B3) Canada, which matches corporate employees with non-profit boards.

Rana Zaman (Halifax/Pakistan) is a longstanding social activist in her community, speaking and co-ordinating events on topics of racism, feminism, bullying, poverty and Islamophobia to create awareness in her community.

Jianhua Zhu (Edmonton/China) is CEO of BioNeutra, which produces a low-calorie, healthy sweetener called VitaFiber. Inspired to help other scientists innovate, Zhu donated a $1.5 million pilot plant to the University of Alberta.

About Canadian Immigrant
Attracting more than 400,000 readers each month and over 100,000 visitors a month online, Canadian Immigrant is a national multimedia platform to help immigrants succeed in Canada, with content, resources and events on careers, education and settlement. Canadian Immigrant is the producer of the cross-country Career, Education and Settlement Immigrant Fairs.

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
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For more information, contact:

Canadian Immigrant
Sanjay Agnihotri, 905-273-8153,

Sophie Connor, 647-823-4790,


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