CANADA - Obituary February 2006
By Barabra Adhiya
Veerendra Dwarkadas Adhiya, died peacefully in his
sleep on Thursday evening January. 19, 2006, after a long battle with
Alzheimer and Diabetes, He was 80. With his passing away, the
Indo-Canadian community lost an activist of social causes.
Veeren graduated in Pune with a Law degree in 1948.
He was an active in his native India as a journalist, law teacher and a
junior Ambassador for India. He set up a "Share Your Toys"
foundation and travelled the world receiving toys from children to give
to those children around the world who were less fortunate. He had
travelled a great many countries before settling in Canada, and even in
his final days would recite all the countries he had visited for every
letter of the alphabet, entertaining his grandchildren once again.
Veeren came to Canada in 1966 with his family and
immediately became involved in the East Indian community. In 1976 he
obtained 20,000 signatures through his radio show "Sangeet Bharti"
on CHWO Radio, to change the Ontario Religious Institutions Act to
include Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and
Islam. Before its change only two religions were recognized under this
act (Christianity and Judaism). Veeren felt all religions deserved equal
treatment under the law and successfully petitioned the
government. He quickly became known in his
community as "Mr. Idea".
Most known for his radio program 'Sangeet Bharati'
started in 1969 and his television programs 'Know India' and 'Bharat
Darshan', Veeren was a trailblazer in multicultural broadcasting. His
was the first cultural program seen and heard on regular TV and radio
and retained a devoted following for about 25 years. "At that time
there weren't many Canadians of Indian origin,” said Veeren.
"When I came to Canada the Indian music was nostalgic"
Veeren's program became a favourite and was known for it's classic music
Veeren helped establish the first direct flight of
Air India between India and Canada. He petitioned and worked closely
with the governments of Pierre Trudeau and Indira Gandhi in 1981,
collecting 70,000 signatures from the community, and successfully
bringing Air India to Toronto.
Restricted from practicing law in Canada did not
deter him from using his knowledge to help other families who were
looking to immigrate to Canada from India. The only breadwinner in the
family and working as a paralegal, Veeren tirelessly worked on behalf of
over 1,300 families, aiding in their visa applications and their
paperwork. He helped all of those families realise their dreams of
coming to a prosperous land and provide a better education and future
for their children. Veeren would not accept fees for this service,
coining his famous line "No charge". He regularly contributed
"Letter from Canada" column in "Kumar", famous
Veeren was six-time mayor of the Bombay Pavilion at
Caravan, the multi-cultural festival in Toronto. CKEY honoured him with
the Good Citizen Award in 1974. He also was honoured by many a mayor,
premier, and even prime ministers for his social services, good work in
the community, frequently receiving letters from their offices praising
and recognizing his devotion to his East Indian community.
He will be remembered for his unselfish ways and
his dedication to kindness and sharing with all people. He will be
missed remembered by many, who are enjoying the benefits of his efforts
as well as by many who received help from him.
Devoted husband to dear wife Kusum, admirable
father to Jay, Jawahar, and Sandhya (deceased), fun and loving Dada
(grandfather) to Barbara, Niraj, Shridevi, Piyush, Derek, Saurabh,
Sujata and Jasmine, and an inspirational great-grandfather to Arianne,
Isabella, and Kamran. “Dada we, your children hope to keep your dreams
alive. You have left us in awe of your legacy. We love you dearly and
miss you tremendously” says his daughter Barbara. Veeren will be
missed greatly by his family, who vow to follow in his admirable
footsteps and set example of integrity, honesty, devotion and hard work.