Grant’s Desi Achievers Awards Gala 2018: View all pictures here

The Who’s Who of the South Asian community gathered to welcome the newest inductees in the Desi Hall of Fame at the Grant’s Desi Achievers Awards Gala held at C-Banquets in Mississauga.

They came dressed in their finest. “I love dressing up in my desi outfits!” said a guest.

And they came with their families and friends. Proud spouses, siblings, parents and with extended family visiting from the old countries.

Master of Ceremonies Cletus Castelino welcomed the distinguished guests in his inimitable style.

GA Easwar, Publisher, Desi News, thanked the achievers – those being honoured that evening and all the others from previous years who were in attendance – for sharing their stories.

“You are all role models, your stories are beacons of hope for those who arrived last week, last month, last year... to be all they can be in this land of immense opportunity.”

He also thanked Peter Mielzynski, Vice-Chair of PMA Canada, the title sponsor of the Desi Achiever series for 12 years. Peter’s family’s journey in Canada mirrors that of many high achievers honoured that evening.

“His father, the late Peter Mielzynski Sr., came to Canada in 1953 from Poland with just a suitcase and a few dollars in his pocket. The early years were a struggle, but he met the challenges with fortitude and determination and went on to build PMA Canada, the country’s largest importer of wines and whiskeys. Peter is proud to carry forward his father’s legacy and encourage other achievers. He is a dear friend. We meet over an Indian lunch and I must say, he has learnt to handle spices better now than he could at first! We call him an honorary desi!

Speaking without notes and straight from the heart, Peter Mielzynski Jr. remarked on the synergy between the high achievers and the ideals his father, Peter Mielzynski Senior, stood for.

“I am not an emotional man,” he said, “but when a lady comes up to me and says she felt valued for the first time in Canada when she was recognized as a Grant’s Desi Achiever for her work, her contributions to the community, I am deeply moved. I see the individuals here, each of whom represent the highest qualities in personal and professional lives, and I am so proud of our partnership with Desi News in bringing their stories to the fore. This is the best illustration there could be of all the positives of multiculturalism.”

In his address, Mark Toljagic, Senior Communications Officer,  Centennial College, spoke about how international students find a home away from home at Centennial College. He has profiled students and staff at the college in the pages of Desi News for over 12 years and said many of them are the achievers we would be celebrating in the not too distant future.

Jet Airways, India’s top domestic and international airline, is a strong supporter of community causes and B Chandrashekar, General Manager, North America, for Jet Airways and his team attended and presented two return tickets to Amsterdam or India to the winner of a raffle draw.

MC Castelino thanked the team from WeirFoulds for joining the celebration of desi achievers as a premium sponsor. WeirFoulds is one of Canada’s oldest law firms, established over 150 years ago – a firm as old as Canada itself! And for over 150 years, the lawyers of WeirFoulds have addressed highly sophisticated legal challenges, acted in some of Canada’s most significant mandates and have represented clients in many landmark cases. They are consistently recognized as leaders in the profession.

The evening was off to a great start with the cocktail hour, followed by a presentation by Razak Pirani, Menon Lojan and Nikhil Nadarajah, all members of the Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble.

Their nimble fingers and expressions of fierce concentration earned them a rousing round of applause from the gathering.

This year, former Senator Dr Asha Seth, Order of Canada Lata Pada, Order of Ontario Dr Chandrakant Shah and Justice Manjusha Pawagi, all past Grant’s Desi Achievers, were invited to each present a set of awards

“Oscar style,” as Castelino quipped. “Minus the long acceptance speeches!”

Guests enjoyed a special performance of Indian classical music by Grant’s Desi Achiever, tabla virtuoso Ravi Naimpally and Andrew Kay. Andrew, who learnt Indian classical music in the guru-shishya parampara, living in Kolkata for 10 years, played Indian raagas on the saxophone and also a composition on singing bowls.

Ravi’s tabla performance was riveting and the two cast a spell over the gathering.

An Indian dinner brought the evening to a close.

“I look forward to your events,” said a guest. “It’s such an august gathering. I meet old friends and make new ones.”

Desi News