The Canada-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) celebrated its 30th Anniversary Gala and Awards Night at the prestigious Richmond Hill Country Club on June 14, 2013. Packed to capacity with distinguished guests including dignitaries and businessmen, the event was much more than a celebration of past successes in international commerce: it was an enthusiastic commitment to a new leap forward in trade between Canada and Pakistan.

Established in 1983 to promote trade between the two nations, the CPBC has grown to be a well-respected, non-profit organization that has been integral to over 18 trade missions and the birth of many MOUs and business alliances. As chief guest at the gala, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario recognized the role of the CPBC in opening up new markets and generating new wealth. And as she confirmed the province’s commitment to continue working closely with the business council, she also looked to the CPBC and the thriving community of Pakistani-Canadians to carve out new paths going forward.

The newly re-elected Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, had a similar message. In a letter to the CPBC on theoccasion of the anniversary gala, the leader of Pakistan’s largest province declared his province and country “open for business” and invited Canadian businesses to invest in Pakistan, especially in the energy sector.

After highlighting Chief Minister Sharif’s invitation to invest in Pakistan, the CPBC president, Samir Dossal, outlined his vision for the next chapter in the organization’s storied history. He promised he would maintain the CPBC as the “go to” organization for establishing trade between Canada and Pakistan, and noted that a solid focus on energy, ICT, health, agri-food and education would produce great strides in the prosperity of everyone on both sides of the trade equation.

In order to get things moving quickly, President Dossal spoke about how the CPBC has been working closely with the Pakistan Chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Brampton Board of Trade and other partner organizations and stakeholders. In an effort to help businesses identify opportunities and challenges on the Pakistani business landscape, a series of interactive workshops have been established in collaboration with provincial and federal government agencies. The first workshop, “Focus on Pakistan,” drew praise from attendees for its scope, depth and ambition.

With a strong contingent of supporters from government and business in both Canada and Pakistan, the CPBC is positive about its future; the faith in President Dossal to lead the council is equally strong. Dr Shafiq Qaadri, MPP from Etobicoke North, introduced Dossal as an inspiring personality with an entrepreneurial spirit and keen mind, as well as someone who champions initiatives that foster community spirit and social justice.

That came through loud and clear during the awards section of the night as the CPBC recognized the exceptional efforts of members of the community in Canada and Pakistan. Awards for 2013 were presented in the following categories:

  • Business Person of the Year award went to Ali Kizilbash, President, TWI Foods Inc.
  • Professional of the Year (Female) award was presented to Chantal Desloges, Lawyer, Desloges Professional Corporation.
  • Professional of the Year (Male) award was bestowed upon Dr Naveed S. Mohammad, V.P. Medical Affairs, William Osler Health System.
  • The Humanitarian of the Year award was presented to Souriya Anwar, Founder and President, SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan.
  • A Special Recognition Award was presented to Khalid Nawaz Awan, Chairman, Tranzum Group of Companies, for supporting the CPBC by providing his expertise and giving access to the depth of his business network.
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Wilfred J. Wilkinson, Chair, The Rotary Foundation, for his selfless service to others.

During the gala event, a number of dignitaries paid tribute to the entire CPBC team and its three decades of hard work and dedication. Senator Salma Ataullahjan welcomed the guests, and conveyed the Message of Prime Minister of Canada Rt. Hon. Steven Harper and his acknowledgement of important advancement Pakistan and Canada have made in multiple fronts and the diligent efforts of CPBC to promote strong trade and commercial links between the two countries. She also read out the message of Minster Jason Kenney’s (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism) congratulations for 30 years of successful initiatives; the Honourable Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation, congratulated the board for promoting research and innovation cooperation; H.E. Akbar Zeb, High Commissioner for Pakistan, felicitated the members and board of the CPBC for striving to promote stronger ties between Pakistan and Canada; while Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow, Mayor of Markham Frank Scarpitti, Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell, and Jim Karygiannis, MP from Scarborough-Agincourt, all recognized the CPBC for its role in the success and vitality of their communities. Additionally Mayor Fennell acknowledged and endorsed full support to the CPBC Partnership with Brampton thru Brampton Board of Trade(BBoT). Unanimously all offered to continue to extend their support.The event was well represented by the Pakistan High Commission and the Consulates of Toronto and Montreal. . The role of Consulate under the leadership of Mr. Nafees Zakaria was lauded for the interactive role in enhancing trade and support to CPBC. Guests came from across Canada and all the way from Pakistan as wellThe Board and sponsors were duly acknowledged for their support and contributions in helping bring CPBC where it stands today.The CPBC’s main corporate sponsor, RBC, was represented by several of its experts and executives; chief among them was Jennifer Tory, Regional President, Greater Toronto Region, RBC Royal Bank.PIA and Country Manager Muizuddin Ahmed were applauded for their support in providing a subsidised ticket to one of the award recipient.For more information on the CPBC, its events and initiatives, please contact Mr Samir Dossal at info@cpbconline.org/upcomingn.