Canada Pakistan Business Council’s 33rd Anniversary Gala and Awards Night was a spectacular ceremony held at The International Centre in Mississauga and was attended by a large number of dignitaries and prominent people from the community. The packed to capacity crowd included a vast cross section of representation from the Business Community, Corporate representation, Associations, Alumni, Partners and Stakeholders. Prominent amongst those were a strong contingent from the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, Department of Foreign Affairs, City of Brampton, Brampton Board of Trade, Canada Turkish Business Council and CPBC Sponsors, Corporate Members and Friends.The evening commenced with a vivacious art and cultural display. Prominent artists of Pakistani origin displayed colourful art while instrumental music orchestrated by the famous sitar player Anwar Khurshid enchanted the guests.
The formal event began with the national anthems of Canada and Pakistan followed by welcome remarks by Mr. Samir Dossal, President of the CPBC. Mr. Dossal thanked all the dignitaries and other guests for attending the grand event and spoke about the vibrancy and growth of the Pakistani community in Canada.
Mr. Dossal proudly announced that merchandise trade between Canada and Pakistan, for the first time, exceeded $1 billion dollars
He also mentioned that just two years ago, at the 31st Annual Gala, he had announced that we needed to do more to promote trade between Canada and Pakistan, which at that time sat at $650 million. He exclaimed that this was an exciting development in the bilateral relationships between the two countries and showed that we have come a long way. Mr. Dossal also addressed the Premier of Ontario, Honorable Kathleen Wynne, who unfortunately could not attend the event, and reiterated the invitation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for her to visit Pakistan. Mr. Dossal also conveyed invitations from NUST and the Punjab minister for education to Dr. Reza Moridi to visit Pakistan. Mr. Dossal highlighted the role of Consul General Golo for his exceptional contributions to the Community at large and to CPBC in bringing the community together and going beyond his call of duty to help enhance bilateral trade between Canada and Pakistan, the latter being the mandate of CPBC.
Mr. Dossal’s address was followed by a special video message from Prime Minister Mr. Justin Trudeau.
Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the role of Pakistani Canadians, who have not only established themselves in virtually every profession in Canada, but have also become policy-makers and political leaders in all levels of the government in Canada. He commended the CPBC for its compassion and commitment in promoting commercial trade links between Canada and Pakistan. The Prime Minister wished the best to both the Canadian and Pakistani communities and encouraged them to work together for a prosperous future.
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Ontario, then took the stage and acknowledged the role of CPBC, and passionately introduced the Honorable Dr. Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities, to the stage. Dr. Reza Moridi highlighted the strength of the Pakistani community in Canada, and applauded and stimulated the CPBC to continue to play its role in strengthening cultural, economic and educational ties between the two countries. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFuymSIJjFY&w=560&h=315]
Dr. Moridi showed a commendable initiative by making a commitment to lead a delegation to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
The Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, Mr. Asghar Ali Golo, in his address also recognized the efforts of the CPBC, particularly the leadership of Mr. Samir Dossal, in working hard for the betterment of the Pakistani community.
The keynote speaker at the event was Mr. Michael Foley, who took time out of his busy schedule and flew to Canada to attend the event. Mr. Foley delivered a mesmerizing speech on the Pakistani economic and cultural landscape and spoke at length about the massive economic opportunities in Pakistan. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bVHTNbGnXQ&w=560&h=315]He affirmed that having lived in Pakistan he attested to the fact that the country is enormously different compared to the image of Pakistan that is portrayed in the western media. He also expressed his admiration for the Pakistani culture and the people.
Mr. Foley highlighted the phenomenal growth in the telecommunications industry in Pakistan and stated the country was at crossroads to take its place in the global economy
Co-Chairs of the Canada-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group, Hon. Rob Oliphant and Hon. Salma Zahid, also thanked the CPBC, and Mr. Asghar Ali Golo in particular, and asserted their commitment to strengthen ties between the two countries at a parliamentarian level to promote bilateral trade in science, technology and energy sectors. They also encouraged Pakistani legislators to do the same.
“It is you, the business leaders in this room, that will be instrumental in deepening and expanding our bilateral trade relationship. We want to work with you and support you in this goal” – Hon. Salma Zahid, Co-Chair Canada-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group
MP Iqra Khalid, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, then eloquently invited the Chief Guest Hon. John McCallum to the stage. Mr. John McCallum acknowledged his strong connection with the Pakistani community in Canada and lauded the efforts made by CPBC and the community in fund raising and promoting bilateral trade between the two countries. He remarked that a trade mission to Pakistan led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be a phenomenal idea and that he would make the suggestion to the Prime Minster himself. He gave assurance that his ministry was working hard to bring the brightest minds to Canada and to make the process of permanent residency easier for international students. He also stated that his department was processing Pakistani visa application as fast and efficiently as it could.
Mr. McCallum acknowledged that periodic visa and immigration issues were brought to his attention from Islamabad and stated that he would personally travel to Islamabad this year to look into the issue himself.
Mr. McCallum’s concern regarding this issue was extraordinary and commendable. With regards to legislation about the previous government introducing different tiers of citizenship, Mr. McCallum assured everyone that there would be only one class of citizenship, which is ‘Canadian’, and a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. He also said that he would like to visit Pakistan before the end of the year to see for himself what Pakistan has to offer.
Followed by Mr. McCallum, Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Chairman CPBC, took on to the stage to thank and present a token of appreciation to the Chief Guest.
CPBC Awards Presentation
A key highlight of the event was the Awards Presentation, which recognized the efforts of inspiring people who have made a huge impact on the community through their work and influence. Special awards were presented to the following guests:
Business Person of the Year Award, 2016
Michael Foley, Chief Executive Officer at Telenor Pakistan
Professional of the Year – Female, 2016
Ms. Naheed Mustafa – Producer, Writer & Broadcaster
Professional of the Year – Male, 2016
Dr. Mehboob Elahi – Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Toronto
Humanitarian of the Year – Male, 2016
Mr. Daniel Lanthier – Humanitarian & Social Worker in Pakistan
Special Recognition Award, 2016
Mr. Asghar Ali Golo – Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto
Lifetime Achievement Award
Mr. Mohammad Ashraf – Philanthropist, Retired Partner at BDO Canada
The event continued with dinner accompanied by a special musical performance by Anwar Khurshid and his group.
During the program Mayor Frank Scarpitti applauded the Canadians of Pakistani origin for the exceptional role in the Community and highlighted the partnership with CPBC and the scholarship by the City of Markham.Mayor was pleased confirm that Markham continues hold the Pakistan Day at Markham Town Centre for many, many years.
Mayor Dave Barrow congratulated the CPBC for its role in promoting relations between Canada and Pakistan and thanked the Consul General Asghar Ali Golo. Mayor Barrow ceremoniously presented the Honorary Citizenship of the Town of Richmond Hill for his great role in the Community.
A Congratulatory Letter was presented to CPBC President Dossal on behalf of Hon. Patrick Brown, Leader of the Opposition in the Ontario. CPBC co-led the a recent delegation to Pakistan with Hon. Patrick Brown hosted by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif.CPBC appreciates the unwavering support of its sponsors and patrons. CPBC acknowledges the dedication of each member of Team CPBC for making this event a raving success. A special thanks to the Event Chair, Naveed Hyder for her hard work, commitment and dedication for raising the profile of the event and taking it to the next level.
A very special thank you to RBC Corporate Sponsor and Mr. Imtiaz Seyid for their support.
A special thanks you for all the sponsors especially the event sponsors and partners.
Event Sponsors: CIBC, Midas Safety, SASCO
Media Partners: Asian News, ATN, Rawal TV, Rogers TV
Gold Sponsors: Etihad Airways, SASCO, TCS, TWI Foods
Silver Sponsors: National Foods, MIDAS Safety, DAFINA, FDS Broker Services, Canada Gulf Investments, Digram Developments, BDO Canada.