Winners of the 2019 awards

Canada has always taken pride in the contribution of its immigrants. Calgary recently recognized the achievements of its immigrants and refugees.

The 2019 Immigrants of Distinction Awards, organized by Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC), announced its winners.

  • Achievement Under 35: Oluseyi Smith
  • Arts and Culture: Wilmer Aburto
  • Community Service: Dr. Victorino Lantion
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Amy Giang
  • Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Adriana Fishta-Bejko
  • Organizational Diversity: Tower Cleaners
  • Youth Scholarships: Arijit Lodha, Claire Du, Nihal Potdar, Riri Jiang and Jadé Olayinka

Celebrating diversity and persistence

Centred around the theme, ‘Immigration – Building Canada’s Prosperity’, the 23rd edition of the awards was attended by many. There were governments officials, corporate communities and professionals from the voluntary sector among others. The focus was on recognizing immigrants and refugees who come together irrespective of their ethnicities, languages, cultures and contribute towards building a strong, prospering community.

Talking to New Canadians, Hyder Hassan, CEO of ISC, said, “What makes Canada one of the best countries is that fact that it is built on immigrants. That is what we celebrate.” Recalling his own journey as an immigrant from Pakistan, cut to today where he is CEO, Hyder added, “Irrespective of one’s background, anyone can come to Canada and be successful.”

“What makes Canada one of the best countries is that fact that it is built on immigrants. That is what we celebrate.”
– Hyder Hassan, CEO, ISC

The awards ceremony recognized people from different walks of life under different categories, namely the arts, scholarship recipients, professionals under 35 and also lifetime achievement.

The winners, on what inspires them

“It is an honour to be recognized,” said, Amy Giang, recipient of the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ award. “When I came to Canada, I did not speak English; we did not even have a dollar! My message to all newcomers is, as long as your work hard, you can achieve anything.”

For Wilmer Aburto, winner of the ‘Arts and Culture’ award, gaining such recognition also meant that he has been able to share his personal story. “This opportunity has allowed me to tell newcomers that being resilient pays off. Being able to commit to moving forward during those difficult times of struggle does bear fruit.”

“This opportunity has allowed me to tell newcomers that being resilient pays off.”
– Wilmer Aburto, recipient of the ‘Arts and Culture’ award

What advice do some of the winners have for other newcomers? Wilmer said, “I would encourage people to access communities. Find safe spaces to continue developing and sharing the values you bring to Canada. There’s so much more we can contribute to this landscape by bringing in and staying true to our roots. That’s what makes this nation a great one,”. Amy added, “Always pursue your dream, never give up,” signing off.