September 19, 2007 issue

Community News

Guyanese-born Mani Singh eyes Queen’s Park
Mani Singh, NDP candidate for Brampton-Springdale
Toronto — Real Estate magnate Mani Singh will be contesting the up-coming October 10th Provincial elections in the Brampton-Springdale Riding under the NDP ticket. If elected this 26-year resident of Brampton will be the first Guyanese-born Canadian to serve as an MPP in the Ontario Parliament at Queens Park.
Mani Singh - no stranger to politics having served two terms as President of the Association of Concerned Guyanese - has surprised many by his willingness to give up his successful career to do battle at the Onatrio Legislature. After eighteen years in the Real Estate industry, Mani (as he is fondly referred to) says he is prepared to call it a day and dedicate his time and energies to help improve the lot of his constituents.
“What would it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? The time has come to give back to society in a more significant way. I am not motivated by earthly things but by a deep passion to serve mankind,” was Mani's philosophic response to the question of his motivation for wanting to change career.
He said he is inspired by the sacrifices and the struggles of his heroes Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Nelson Mandela, Rev. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi whose selflessness and indomitable spirit has made the world a better place for us all.
Mani, who lives in a luxurious home on a 2.2 acre plot of land in the affluent North Brampton neighborhood of Castlemore, has the support of his wife Prema and their four children, who are all actively engaged in his campaign.
Asked why he thinks he should be elected, Mani's reply was that he believes that charity begins at home and since he has been pretty successful in his personal life he can help others to achieve similar or even greater success.
Mani is known in his community for his involvement in many charities and for his integrity and humility.
Asked why he chose to run under the NDP and not under the Liberal or Conservative party where he might stand a better chance of being part of the government he replied, “Liberal and Tory – it’s the same old story so it is time for a change.”
He reiterated that he is not driven by a desire for power but only to serve and can only enjoy doing so in company with those who share a common vision. He feels that the NDP is the party with his conviction and his vision. Mani says he believes in fairness, equality and social justice; that affordable education, free medical attention, and a clean and healthy environment are some of the basic human needs that must be met.
Persons wishing to support Mani Singh's campaign through donations, by volunteering or in any other way may contact his campaign office at (905)-794-9948.
Yusuf Day of Hope: On September 3, Kameeza Ally (wearing hijab above) of the Taric Mosque handed over a cheque for $10,000 to Katie McHugh of the Sick Kids Hospital in recognition of the services being offered by the Hospital to her ailing 3-year old son Yusuf Ally and to the tens of thousands of other suffering children. Since birth Yusuf is inflicted by Klebsiella Meningitis inflammation caused by bacteria that infects the protective covering of the central nervous system. The disease causes havoc with Yusuf’s immune system and as such triggers multiple organ dysfunctions and numerous infections. Yusuf's father, Imran Ally, is Imam at Tariq Mosque. The family has been instrumental in raising funds for Sick Kids under the rubric "Yusuf Day of Hope".


Budding doctors, designers
in Scarborough art project
Youth artists who worked on mural for the summer (L-R) Mandi Chu, Inthuju
Karunanaithy, Sara Siddiqi and Alex Turner. Pix by William Doyle-Marshall

By William Doyle-Marshall
Six high school students from the Kennedy Park area with diverse creative dreams participated in a summer arts project known as the Scarborough Mural Project – a program spearheaded by Arts for Children of Toronto (AFC).
It gives youth from high-priority neighbourhoods the opportunity to work on artistic projects, which will have a lasting impact on their community. AFC hired the young people, aged 15 to 18, to design and paint a public 12’ x 24’ mural, in collaboration with arts mentor Jim Bravo
The aspiring artists were Sara Siddiqi, who hopes to become either a lawyer or a doctor; Inthuja Karunanithy, has plans to be a graphic designer or a doctor. Sidontae Wilson, wants to become a fashion designer or a photographer; Alex Turner, is interested in learning different approaches to painting techniques and dreams of designing cars for Ferrari. Mandi Chu, will be attending university in September in order to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse and Wendi Everick, one day hopes to become a voice-over actor for film, television and radio. She also dreams of one day designing for the Sega corporation.
Siddiqi who is usually at home was referred to AFC by a lady who works with the Afghan Women’s organization. Being a part of the initiative meant a lot for her because it meant giving back to the community. She attends Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate. “It is something there for the community and the people to see and it shows how youth can go out and work on something that will last a long time and how they actually can do something in the summer to keep themselves busy rather than just hanging out on the streets and doing other things.”
Satisfied with the venture Siddiqi confessed the newest skills she acquired from this was the spirit of team work. “I hadn’t really worked on a job where I had to work with a team of people. I had worked on individual tasks and it was just a real good opportunity to gain the skills that I gained and to work with people from different communities.”
For Karunanithy, a Winston Churchill College Institute student, helping to produce the mural was also a new experience. “In the future I want to be a graphic designer,” she said. Her previous work experienced was at McDonald’s. Consequently she never got to work in art departments. “It was the first time so that’s why I am really happy about it,” Karunanithy added.
Wilson, a Cedarbrae Collegiate student said the project provided her with opportunities like having an expanding career in art and creative expression.
For seven weeks it was hard and easy, she recalled. Getting the ideas was easy but the actual painting was hard, Wilson said. “It took so long I thought we would never finish it. I was just like ‘make it go away but we were able to meet the deadline,” she concluded. Quite happy that it’s completed, she said “now other people get to see what we did throughout the summer.”
The students went to their assigned chores five days a week for eight hours a day. “I would probably do this again because I now have the experience and it’s fun and other people should do it because you get a good experience out of it and make friends and further a career in art,” Wilson advised.
Alex Turner, a Cedarbrae Collegiate student felt working on the mural meant a lot because it is an opportunity he never had before such as being involved with something that relates to the community to be able to share his care for the community. It was a chance to showcase his skills.
“For me it was just team work and better communication skills.”
Mandi Chu of Winston Church College Institute felt the experience was very meaningful to her. She had a lot of fun during the summer. “I used the time well
“We worked tirelessly with the ultimate aim of expressing the wonders of harmony and unity within the community and each of the youth contributed their own motifs for the project, which they expressed through their unique approaches to art,” Siddiqi reflected.
The Scarborough Mural Project was supported by the City of Toronto’s Go Far Passport
youth program, Coffee Time, Tropicana Community Services, Benjamin Moore Canada, Afghan Women’s Organization, Second Base Youth Shelter, Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre, Canadian Architect, The Design Exchange, and Parliament Building Supplies.
Arts for Children of Toronto has been short-listed by the Toronto Arts Council Foundation for the 2007 Arts for Youth Award.


Great promise in 'Guyana Beat' on Rogers Cable 10 with Camille at the helm
Camille Ross anchors Guyana Beat, a current affairs TV show
Pix by Adit Kumar

By Adit Kumar
Camille Ross - charming, youthful, innovative and full of wonderful ideas - has launched her TV series, Guyana Beat, a very upbeat show that promises a lot in the future. Camille's show premiered on Rogers Cable 10 on September 8 and will be broadcast every two weeks thereafter.
If her first show is any indication of what’s to come then we are in for a treat of education with a dash of entertainment as Camille takes a peek into the lively culture of the Guyanese community here in Greater Toronto providing information about the cuisines, entertainment, history, politics, social life, historical facts and profiles on Guyanese achievers who stand out in the community. Viewers will get an opportunity to have a behind-the-scene look at community events as well as witness interviews on political, social and historical issues on Guyana. They will also get a chance to follow her as she goes through the paces of cooking, singing, dancing and even playing sports Guyana style.
Despite being a first generation Canadian of Guyanese heritage Camille is deeply rooted in her Guyanese heritage. In an interview with Indo Caribbean World, Camille attributes her strong affinity to her roots as a product of her upbringing in a nuclear family whose traditional family values embrace its cultural heritage. She also attends the Arya Samaj Mandir at 14th Avenue in Markham which has also influenced her religious views. As a youth, Camille was an active member of the Vedic Cultural Centre Youth Quest which she says allowed her to develop her self confidence and assertiveness, qualities which she finds useful today as she develops her career in journalism.
A recent graduate from the School of Journalism at Ryerson University, Camille has landed a challenging job as an Associate Producer with CTV working on their all day live news channel CTV NewsNet. She explained an interesting story behind the unfolding of Guyana Beat. It was an opportunity she said she just couldn’t pass up. While volunteering at Rogers Television during last summer, she learnt from one of her mentors that Rogers was expanding their cultural programming block and she enquired if she could put together a Guyanese show for consideration. Her mentor told her that “all you have to do is convince me and my station manager, and you’ve got two weeks to do it.”
Camille explained that she undertook this challenge with a passion and with minimal home based equipment and “a lot of supportive people around me, within two weeks I had an 18 minute pilot show prepared and ready to submit”.
While holidaying in Europe Camille got the good news by e-mail that Guyana Beat had been approved.” Upon her return to Canada she got cracking and launched the first of a very promising series of programs. One of her challenges is getting sponsors to advertise on the show and she looks forward to support from the business community.
While Camille has always leaned toward television broadcasting she had her foundation in print journalism. She talks with a great sense of pride of her first reporting job which was with Indo Caribbean World. Through this medium, Camille got the opportunity to interact with the Guyanese community in Toronto as she covered social events, reviewed films and theatre and interviewed prestigious guests including the first lady of Guyana among others. She also had a long summer with the Toronto Star newsroom as a reporter monitoring crime across the city which prepared her for the pressures of the industry.
Outside of work, Camille is dedicated to charity work. She is the Public Relations Officer for The Caribbean Children Foundation - an organization that brings sick children from the Caribbean for treatment at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She is also an avid traveler and has already explored the U.K., Spain, Italy, many parts of the Caribbean and the U.S. and of course Guyana.
Camille would be happy to promote the community and is inviting members of the community to send in information of their events. She would also welcome any feedback on the show and ideas for improvement. Camille may contacted at Her website is The next show will be aired on Saturday, September 22, 2007 at 12:00 noon. Rebroadcasts will be aired on the following Wednesdays at 6:00 am and Fridays at 6:30 pm.


Jamaican Mission to keep Constable Davis Ahlowalia’s vision alive
Chief Armand La Barge on his way to Jamaica.
Pix by William Doyle-Marshall

By William Doyle-Marshall
Eighteen civilian and uniform members of York Regional Police spent seven days in Jamaica (September 10-17) recently visiting a new orphanage being built in Kingston by Missionaries for the Poor headed by Father Richard Ho Long.
Chief Armand La Barge accompanied his delegation of officers including Inspector Robertson Rouse to Kingston as a follow-up in the name of one of his young officers Davis Ahlowalia, who brought the project to the attention of his employers. He died in an accident earlier this year. Jamaica’s needy, orphaned children touched police constable, Ahlowalia, in 2004 during a visit to the country immediately following Hurricane Ivan.
“We came up with the concept together of adopting not just one or two of the individuals there but adopting the whole mission,” Chief of York Regional Police Armand La Barge told Indo Caribbean World.
So members of the police service, under the guidance of Ahlowalia, had been raising funds and whatever goods they could within the community and sending them down the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston, Jamaica. They will fund the building as well as the maintenance of the orphanage through a series of fundraising initiatives
To all the officers, the trip was special and was undertaken to continue with constable Ahlowalia’s dream. Inspector Rouse termed him a great humanitarian who did a lot of charity work not only in Canada but in Jamaica and India as well.
The officer returned home in 2004 with photographs and stories about the plight of the children and that resulted in his employers adopting the orphanage. Inspector Rouse recalled the proposal for adoption was readily accepted by the Chief. “To me this is an occasion for us as police officers to go down and provide service not only to the community here in Canada through Missionaries of the Poor but to actually be on site and give hands-on service to the orphanages and the service and the work that the people are doing in Jamaica,” he said.
Davis’ mother Anna Ahlowalia and his brother Anil also made the trip with the officers. “For me it means a lot because he told me if you want to see Jesus face you have to go and work there. Then he asked me if I would like to come with him the next time? I said yes, please take me one day. So I understand this is the next time,” Anna Ahlowalia said, fighting back tears. Anil saw the visit as a continuation of his brother’s work and he was anxious to go down and help the children.
While Anna Ahlowalia waited to board the York Regional Police bus for the airport she reflected on Davis’ words to her, “mom get down there and do it very often”.
Sergeant Ricky Verrappan said he and his colleagues have been doing numerous fundraising ventures for a while in preparation for the visit in honour of keeping Davis’ dream alive.
For Chief La Barge the visit was a realization of the officer’s dream. “One of the most important parts of his life was working with the Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica and India and we wanted to keep that dream alive after his death,” he stressed.
La Barge said he and his officers were looking forward to working alongside the brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston and Father Ho Long, caring for children struggling with HIV and AIDS and struggling with physical challenges, dealing with some of the individuals that are in the different missions there, the adults as well. "So we will be working alongside too helping with recovery from the latest hurricane Dean."
Detective Tony Brown said the trip did not only mean giving to the people who are in need but for the individual officers it was a source of satisfaction as it was a time when they could offer some help to other people. “Being a person from the Caribbean I am aware of some of the difficulties we have down there,” the officer reflected. He also emphasized like his other colleagues that being in Jamaica was a chance to help carry on Davis’ purpose mission which he believes is good to continue.
The group spent the week playing an active role volunteering for the Missionaries of the Poor organization by providing care and assistance at five mission homes for the sick and destitute in downtown Kingston. The York Regional Police officers volunteered the time to travel to Jamaica at their own expense to care for approximately 500 residents of the missions who have varying needs. Among the residents were orphans, elderly, some suffering from HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Many have additional physical challenges.
In addition to this working visit, York Regional Police launched a food drive this summer for the Jamaica Missions and raised enough food and supplies to fill a 40-foot shipping container that was sent to Jamaica. Since Constable Ahlowalia’s death and with the unwavering support of York Region community, more than $22,000 has been raised to directly to supporting the Mission.


The Month of Ramadan
By Manshad Mohamed
Ramadan, the month of fasting, began on September 13 and will conclude on or about October 13 based on the sighting of the moon. Throughout this period, the 1.2 billion Muslims across the globe will be fasting during the daytime, by denying themselves food, water and conjugal relations. This is in response to a verse in Chapter 2 of the Holy Quran which states, "O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may learn restraint."
Ramadan is not restricted to fasting alone but to offer prayers and show care and concern for others. To begin the day of fast, the following declaration is made, "I intend to fast for this day, in order to perform my duty towards Allah Subhanu wa ta’ala in the month of Ramadan." To end the day of fasting at sunset, the following words, are said, "O Allah! I have kept the fast for your sake and believe in you. I put in you my trust and break my fast with the food provided by you." Many people then eat two or three dates and drink a glass of water.
Laila-Tul- Qadr, the 27th night of Ramadan is scheduled, tentatively for October 8. Much of this entire night is spent in prayers and reading of the Holy Quran. It is incumbent upon every Muslim to read and try to understand the Holy Quran, to gain its valuable insights and put them into practice.
Fasting is one of the “Pillars of Islam.” During Ramadan, the plight of the homeless and needy are highlighted and they are invited to join the various venues when the fasting comes to and end each day. This may be at a Mosque, a private home or public place and everyone shares in a common meal.
According to spokesman Genghiz Khan of the Taric Mosque, a public event is carded to take place on September 25 at Nathan Philipps Square, City Hall at 6:30 pm, when Magrib Salat (Namaz) will be performed followed by dinner for all in attendance. Quari Samir Belagi of Libyia will then recite some verses of the Holy Quran.
Community discharges Kumar's hospital indebtedness

John Persaud, second from left in picture above, hands over a cheque for $25,000 to Kesete Dirar, Patient Accounts Representative of the St Michael's Hospital, towards the cost of hospitalization, surgery and other treatment for Navindra Kumar (front left) who took ill in Toronto while here on a holiday from Guyana. The hospital, whose total bill to Kumar's unfortunate relatives amounted to almost $73,000, was gracious enough to waive the bulk of the expenses and accept the $25,000 raised through community efforts as the final settlement of Kumar's hospital expenses.
The 34-year old motor mechanic from Triumph Village in Guyana arrived in Toronto last September for a three week holiday to spend with his aunt Karo and uncle Bobby Ramlagan of Scarborough. But he was soon to become afflicted by an illness which later proved to be the result of a leaking valve in his heart that had to be immediately fixed. Soon, he found himself at the St Michael's Hospital in Toronto undergoing surgery.
Both Navindra and his family were traumatized by the sudden turn of events but following the good news that his operation was successful came the aftershock of the costs involved.
The family turned to the Guyanese community for assistance. Spearheaded by John Persaud of Canadian Superbilt Shutters and Manny Mahabir of Safex Financial Services Inc, the community was able to raise $25,000 which the hospital accepted in settlement of Kumar's overall indebtedness.
Kumar along with his family in Toronto and Guyana and those who headed the fundraising efforts extend their heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the St Michael's Hospital, its doctors and staff, and members of the community who gave their unflinching support to ensure that Kumar will once again have a normal life.
By their very act of coming together in Kumar's hour of need, the community has displayed its inherent ability to work together for a common good under adverse circumstances, to rise above individualism and narrow considerations when the occasion demands, and to attain greater heights.


Kissoon to be honoured

The Toronto Arya Samaj/Vedic Cultural Centre will this year be honouring well known community worker and philanthropist Mr Dhaman Kissoon at its Annual Fund Raising Dinner and Awards presentation on Saturday, September 29, 2007.
Every year the organization chooses someone who has made significant contributions to the community to receive its award recognition and this year the honour goes to Mr Kissoon, the popular Toronto solicitor.
The event takes place at the VCC, 4345 14th Avenue, Markham from 6:30 pm. For tickets and further information call 416 422 2295 or 647 866 1926.


Pt Gopi an octogenarian
Pt Hardeo Gopi

Pt Hardeo Gopi celebrated his 80th birthday with a prayer service at the Arya Samaj Mandir, 14th Avenue. Pt Gopi's son, Dr Satish Prakash officiated at the function with over 500 friends and family members present. The family also took the opportunity to observe the 100th Anniversary of the arrival of their foreparents in Guyana from India. Dr Prakash, in his sermon, paid glowing tribute to the pioneering spirit of his grandfather, Gopi Chowdhury, who arrived in Guyana in 1907 as an indentured labourer.


Young Guyanese on Canada's wealthiest list

In an upcoming feature in a prominent Canadian Business publication, Guyanese born Toronto area businessman Dave Hardat will be listed as one of Canada’s wealthiest 500 individuals. With an estimated net worth of approximately Cdn $85 million, it has been a long journey for the son of immigrant factory workers who came to Canada from Guyana at the age of three with only $100 and a dream of a better life.
Hardat attributes his success to two factors: firstly, a very strong family support, from his parents and his wife, whom he says is the backbone of the empire; secondly, a determination and a very strong will to succeed.
"We in Canada and the US have been given a great opportunity to realize success, we need to take advantage of a great educational system and as well, leverage off of good partnerships. I have found it is easier making a little off of a lot of things, therefore try to know a little about everything and you have a base to get a good start,” is Hardat's advice for anyone seeking to be successful.
On the question of failure, Hardat had this to say: "I have failed at so many things and businesses in my young life, however I never stopped believing and with the support of my wife and family we forged ahead."
Hardat is involved in a plethora of local and US businesses and investments, some being retail stores, fast food franchises, real estate developments in Toronto and in Florida, private mortgages, and a variety of majority ownership in several corporations. This, however, is just the start for the 38-year old entrepreneur who has sights set on a professional sports franchise and a hotel/casino.
“Only time can be the scribe of that story,” says Hardat.


Naparima Alumni Tea Party

The ladies arm of the Naparima Alumni group of schools has included Iere H.S. this year to assist in a fund raising tea party on October 13 at the Trinity United Church, Bayview and Sheppard Ave from 1:30 to 5:00 pm. Literary awards will be presented and entertainment is also included in this event.Proceeds go the Naparima institutions in Trinidad. Call Karma at 416-783-6591.


TCCF Anniversary fundraiser

The Trinidad and Tobago Fifty Plus and Seniors Organization will hold its regular monthly meeting at the Birkdale Community Centre,1299 Ellsmere Rd., Scarborough on Sunday 30th September. An Audiologist, Mr. Azi Mohammed will make a presentation. Tickets for the Annual Awards Dinner and Dance which is carded for November 17 at the Elite Banquet Hall, Etobicoke, will be available as this event. Call Rasheed Sultan Khan at 416-281-5264.


TCCF Anniversary fundraiser
The Caribbean Children Foundation (TCCF) will hold its Anniversary Dinner and Dance on Sept 28, 2007 at 7 pm at the Empire Banquet Hall, 246 Brockport Dr, Unit 30, Toronto.
TCCF is actively involved in assisting kids from the Caribbean suffering from ailments that cannot be treated in their homeland, to receive medical treatment in Toronto.
Right now, TCCF has three cases on its hand. Isheena Thorpe, a three year old girl from Jamaica, will be having surgical treatment for her second procedure for Arthrogryposis Multiplex (Disiccated Left Hip & Webspace of Hands) by Dr J Wedge, Surgeon Division of Orthopaedic. TCCF is responsible for the payment of Cdn $18,000 to Sick Kids Hospital.
Noel Clarke, a three year old boy from Jamaica, will be having surgical treatment for Hypospadias (Genital Urine Passage) by Dr Tony Khoury, Chief Division of Urology. TCCF is responsible for the payment of Cdn $10,000.00 towards the cost.
Ashminee Budram, a thirteen year old girl from Guyana, will be having surgical treatment for Corneal Transplant (Impaired Vision) by Dr Asim Ali, Division of Ophthalmology. TCCF is responsible for the payment of Cdn $10,000.
TCCF is a registered Charity that raises funds through community efforts. For more information or tickets to its upcoming fundraiser, call 905-840-5369 or 416-248-5335.
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