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January 2002

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South Asians in Canada

 

Human Rights Activist Honoured

 

 Dr Ubale Receives ORDER OF ONTARIO

 

 By Renuka
 

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario The Honourable Hilary M. Weston
presenting Dr Ubale with the Award

 

Dr Bhausaheb Ubale was honoured last month for his many years of work in human rights and race relations. He was amongst 27 recipients of the Order of Ontario.

 

At the special ceremony organised in the main hall of the Legislature, Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Hilary Weston, gave him “The Order of Ontario” the highest honour given in the province of Ontario.

 

In the citation read by the Deputy Minister of Citizenship, on the behalf of the people of Ontario, states: “ Bhausaheb Ubale is a renowned human rights activist whose work has made Ontario and Canada, a better place to live for people of all background”.

 

Earlier the Lt. Governor wrote: “This well-deserved honour recognizes your long-standing commitment to excellence and remarkable contribution, which have enriched life in our province and beyond”.

 

Dr. Ubale comes from Satara Maharashtra. In India he was active in public life. He was Director of Indian Institute of Political studies in Bombay (now Mumbai).

In 1964, he went to England to complete his post-graduate studies in Economics. He received Ph.D. in Economics.

 

While he was in London, Dr Ubale became actively involved in British politics. He served as Vice President of Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, was invited by the House of Commons Committee on Immigration to give expert testimony, founded Indian Student Hardship Fund, worked as Asian Editor of New Independent, interviewed number of Commonwealth Prime-Ministers, was member of Fabian Society and undertook study for them on the Role of Immigrants in British Economy, organised International conference on India's fifth five-year plan focused on eradication of poverty. He appeared on British electronics media both print and electronics.

In 1975, Dr Ubale arrived in Canada from England to start his career as an Economist. With his British Ph.D. degree, "for two years the best job anyone in Toronto would offer (Indian-born economist) was that of a clerk for $ 100 a week”, Dr Ubale told the Toronto Star recently.

 

Ubale first gained prominence in 1977, during the peak of hostilities against East Indians and Pakistanis living in Toronto.

 

“People were being attacked on the street,” Ubale said of his first years in Toronto. “It was really a very painful experience… I said ‘Look, if I can’t even go out and do normal, everyday things without being afraid to leave my home then something must be wrong’.”

 

At the request of community leaders, Dr. Ubale wrote a scathing 200-page report submitted to the Government of Ontario entitled ”Equal Opportunity and Public Policy: The Role of South Asian Community in Canadian Mosaic” popularly known as “Ubale Report”.  The report was well received by all sectors of Canadian society. Then, Premier Bill Davis and his entire Cabinet responded in a public meeting by presenting its own response entitled “ Working Together: Government’s response to Ubale Report”, accepting all recommendations made in the Ubale report. 

 

Dr. Ubale was appointed as Human Rights Commissioner, the first Canadian of South Asian-origin to get this appointment, by the Premier and his Council of Ministers and was subsequently given additional responsibility of the first Race Relations Commissioner for the Province of Ontario. He held this position for six years until 1985. The CBC T.V. named him as “News Maker of the Week”.

 

In doing this, the Government of Ontario took revolutionary step in creating legislative and administrative framework to create better racial harmony in Ontario and in Canada. Dr. Ubale was charged by the Cabinet to give practical shape to society’s dream of creating harmonious relations among various sections of the society. Thus, through him the South Asian Community played a pioneering role in changing the direction of race relations in Canada.

 

Dr. Ubale has had impeccable public service records. He was subsequently, named as Human Rights Commissioner to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. He also served on the Board of Directors of International Association Official Human Rights Agencies, Washington D.C.

 

Dr. Ubale assumed strong advocacy role on behalf of minority communities to integrate them in the mainstream of Canadian society. He did this through his public speeches, writings, appearing before House of Commons committees, lobbying CRCT and other regulatory bodies, press interviews and establishing good working relations with every sector of Canadian society.

 

He remained very vocal through out his public career and remained focus of media attention continuously as a high profile public figure. Dr. Ubale is an author of a book:  “Politics of Exclusion, Multiculturalism or Ghettoism.”  He served as the first visible minority person on the Board of Directors of United Way of Greater Toronto. His contribution to Canada’s social fabric has been well recognized by leaders of all political parties, the media and by community at large. He is recipient of numerous awards. Dr. Ubale now serves as Senior Vice President of The Ethnic Press Council of Canada.

 

“I gave up my career as an economist to do this and being recognized this way tells me that it was worth it,” said Ubale, on getting news about his being named to “The Order of Ontario”.

 

“The goal was to improve the quality of race relations and the quality of life for all people in the province and this gives me official recognition of having accomplished some significant changes”, he added.

 

Dr Ubale currently utilizes his time in the area of poverty eradication in terms of lobbying, policy makers nationally and internationally, the World Bank and other international agencies to ensure that their work is poverty targeted. He is a founder and president of International Centre for Eradication of Poverty.

 

Dr Ubale is married with two grown up children.