WINDOW ON CANADA
Celebrating May *
South Asian Heritage Month
GlobalomNet Media Service
4 was celebrated as the first-ever South Asian Heritage Month in Ontario.
Over 800 members of Ontario’s diverse South Asian community from India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Singapore, Bangladesh, Uganda, Mauritius,
Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana came together
to mark the inauguration of South Asian Heritage Month in Ontario and to
honour the achievements and contributions of prominent South Asians.
event organized by the South Asian Heritage Foundation, at the Metro
Toronto Convention Centre at 8 p.m., kicked-off month-long celebrations
for the community.
December, the Government of Ontario passed a Private Member's Bill,
introduced by Raminder Gill, M.P.P. Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale,
proclaiming the month
of May as South Asian Heritage Month, and May 5th as South Asian
Arrival Day. The legislation received Royal Assent on December 14,2001.This
is the first time in Canada that a government has formally recognized
South Asians and it is clear that Premier Mike Harris and MPP Raminder
Gill deserve much of the credit for their leadership.
“I am truly grateful to Premier Mike Harris and members of the
Legislature from all parties, who joined with me in helping to make
this bill law,” said Gill.
give spirit to Ontario’s new law, a Central Coordinating Committee,
chaired by Harry S. Mann, was established to organize and promote South
Asian Heritage Month in Ontario. The committee has been responsible for
organizing the inaugural celebration, producing promotional materials and
helping to encourage the recognition of this month by the government and
members of the community.
the inaugural dinner last Thursday, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and
Minister of Education, the Hon. Elizabeth Witmer brought a very positive
message from the Premier, Ernie Eves, to members of the south Asian
community. Mrs. Witmer was generous in her praise of the South Asian
community, noting that they had given a tremendous amount to building
Ontario and still continue to make a positive mark on our province as
exemplified by Thursday’s inaugural dinner.
Asian Heritage Act, 2001, is recognition by the Ontario Legislature of the
contributions that South Asian immigrants have made and continue to make
to the development and general welfare of Ontario," said Harry Mann,
President of the South Asian Lawyers' Association, at the event.
guests and speakers such as accomplished broadcaster and journalist Suhana
Meharchand, paid tribute to several members of the South Asian community
for their achievements in various sectors.
attendance at the dinner to launch South Asian Heritage Month, were
Raminder Gill, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier and Minister
of Intergovernmental Affair, the Hon. Brenda Elliott, Minister of
Community, Children and Family Services, and the Hon. Tony Clement,
Ontario’s Minister of Health.
the dinner several individuals were recognized on the occasion for being
pioneers in their chosen field, including Law Society Treasurer, Professor
Vern Krishna, Q.C., who is the first South Asian to serve as a Bencher,
and Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada and Mr. Syed Mumtaz Ali,
the first known South Asian lawyer in Ontario.
Law Society is pleased to help celebrate this milestone for the South
Asian community, one of the largest and fastest growing communities in
Ontario,” said Treasurer Krishna. “We are also pleased to help pay
tribute to the achievements made by South Asians in law and the legal
profession. I am extremely proud and honoured to be amongst so many
wonderful and talented members of the South Asian community who have
achieved these great accomplishments and laid the groundwork for continued
achievement by the next generation,” said Krishna.
other four prominent South Asians and one organisation were recognized for
their contributions to the community and Canada at the Gala.
Gobind Singh Children's Foundation
Yusuf, Professor of Medicine at McMaster University
Sennik, Chairman/CEO, Desbro Holdings Limited and a philanthropist.
Sennick initiated the installation of a ten-foot high statue of Mahatma
Gandhi in the Peace Park in Richmond Hill in 1988.
Madhani, past Chair of the United Way of Toronto and a recipient of the
Order of Canada.
'Firsts' Among South Asians
following list of South Asian men and women were released by the
Foundation as people who have scored 'firsts' in the law and legal
profession. Their advocacy and volunteerism have resulted in the
advancement of human rights and assisted with the integration of the South
Asian community into the province of Ontario.
Vern Krishna, Q.C., FCGA, First Bencher of the Law Society of Upper
Canada-1991 and First Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada-2001
Syed Mumtaz Ali, First male South Asian lawyer called to the Bar-1962
Iva Sareen, First female South Asian lawyer called to the Bar-1979
Honourable Mr. Ayres Victor Couto, Q.C., First Judicial Appointment to the
Ontario Court of Justice-1984
Honourable Madam Justice Sheila Ray, First female Judicial
Honourable Mr. Justice Russell Juriansz, First Federal Judicial
Appointment to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice-1998
Surya Prakash Sinha and Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe, First Law Professors-1970
Emily Carasco, First female Law Professor-1980
Bhausaheb Ubale, First Human Rights Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights
Raj Anand, First Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission-1988
T. Sher Singh, C.M., LL.B., LL.D., First Order of Canada-2002
Worship Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Singh Chandhoke, First Justice of
Worship Justice of the Peace Meena Nadkarni, First female Justice of the
Gurbax Singh Malhi, Federal Member of Parliament and Parliamentary
Secretary to Minister of Labour,
Murad Velshi, Member of Provincial Parliament.
Mr. Raminder Gill, Member of Provincial Parliament
Accomplishments by South Asian Women of the Bar
P.A. Neena Gupta, co-founder of the Visible Minority Women's group of the
OBA (formerly CBAO)
Kamaljit Kaur Mundi, one of the founding members of the South Asian
Professionals' Networking Association
Soma Ray-Ellis, the first South Asian woman to clerk for the Superior
Court of Ontario
Accomplishments by South Asian Men of the Bar
Christopher Ajith Amerasinghe, Q.C., one of the persons responsible for
establishing the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section in the
Department of Justice
Khalid Baksh, co-counsel for the Coalition of Muslim Organizations and
appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights
and the Special Senate Committee on The Subject Matter of Bill C-36
Honourable Justice Minoo Khoorshed, one of four South Asian judges to have
been appointed in Ontario
Dhaman Persuad Kissoon, has been a sessional lecturer at the Faculty of
Law of Queen's University since 1990, and is currently on the Youth Drug
Court Program (51 Division).
Stindar K. Lal, Q.C., played a significant role in the development of the
new Police Services Act and the establishment of the Race Relations and
Jegan N. Mohan, founder Secretary and Legal Advisor to the Tamil Eelam
Society of Canada, co-founder and lawyer for the Canadian Foundation for
Tamil Refugees and Rehabilitation, Trustee of the Hindu Temple Society of
Canada, and serves on the Legal Aid Ontario Scarborough Area Committee
Mark M. Persaud, Department of Justice Prosecutor, Founder and Chairman of
the Canadian International Peace Project, the Secretary of the South Asian
Lawyers' Association and Co-Secretary of the Canadian Association of Black