Three Mississaugans — two entrepreneurs and a scientist — are among the winners of the second annual Canadian Immigrant Awards.

Vasdev Chanchlani, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Canada India Foundation, Aditya Jha, co-founder of two software companies, a restaurateur and a confectionary business owner, and Hadi Mahabadi, vice-president and director of Xerox Research Centre, are among 25 people from across Canada to receive the award, presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine and Royal Bank of Canada.

The award celebrates recipients’ untold stories while recognizing their resilience, courage and contributions to the community.
Winners were honoured today in Toronto at a ceremony hosted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. They were each given a commemorative certificate, a lapel pin and a $500 donation to a Canadian charity of their choice.

The Canadian Immigrant Award program was launched last November with a nationwide call for nominations. Hundreds of submissions were received, from which 75 finalists were chosen by a panel of Canadian Immigrant magazine judges.

Chanchlani, who immigrated to Canada from Mumbai, India with no connections more than a decade ago, created a life and career in Canada that has seen him work for some of the world’s largest telecommunication companies.

He’s also one of the founding members of the Canada India Foundation (CIF), a public policy advocacy organization that aims to advance the mutual interests of Canada and India. Chanchlani has donated $1 million to connect Indian and Canadian entrepreneurs through the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award.

Jha, who immigrated to Canada from India via Singapore and Australia, was a top executive at Bell Canada and co-founder of a couple of software companies before venturing into the restaurant business with Prego Piazza and becoming a confectionary owner (Karma Candy Inc.).

Jha told Canadian Immigrant magazine he believes immigrants are likely to succeed now because they tend to have a, “conservative approach, are down to earth and bottom-line focused.”

Mahabadi, who came to Canada in 1972 to study at University of Waterloo, had returned to his native Iran after finishing school, where he headed the University of Technology’s chemical engineering department in Tehran. But when a revolution forced academics like him into exile, he turned to Canada once again.

Mahabadi immigrated to Canada with his pregnant wife and their two-year-old son in 1981 with a couple of suitcases and $15 in hand.

He attributes his success to his unshakeable self-confidence and an open-minded employer that he has been loyal to for almost 30 years. Mahabadi said Xerox offered him on-the-job English training and has given him many managerial positions. In 1997, Mahabadi received the Xerox President’s Award and, in 1998, was the recipient of Xerox’s Chester F. Carlson Award for the highest number of U.S. patents (he holds more than 70),

Mahabadi has also been credited with bringing skilled immigrants on board at Xerox.

“Innovations come from a diverse people who have different ideas and ways of thinking,” he told Canadian Immigrant magazine.

The winners’ stories are featured on canadianimmigrant.ca and in the June edition of Canadian Immigrant magazine.
jle@mississauga.net

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