December 5, 2012 issue

Community Connection

Guyanese born Narine Sookram among recipients of Waterloo's highest
civic honour
Edwin Outwater (left), Cindy Watkin and Narine Sookram are this year's recipients of the Waterloo Award. They accepted their awards at Waterloo City Council on November 26.

Narine Sookram, Cindy Watkin and Edwin Outwater are citizens known by their peers for making the community a better place.
For their contributions they were recognized by the City of Waterloo on November 26, 2012 as recipients of the city’s highest civic honour, the Waterloo Award.
Every year, members of the community nominate people they think have made an impact in Waterloo for the award. Those nominations are judged by a selection committee on a number of criteria, including innovation, impact on the city, letters of support, length of service and leadership skills.
“Their volunteer efforts have improved the quality of life in Waterloo and often beyond,” Mayor Brenda Halloran said.
It was Sookram’s cultural leadership that landed him top honours with Waterloo. He has been a standout helping newcomers to Canada, showing long-time cultural leadership within the Canadian Caribbean community.
Sookram, who hails from Guyana, organizes the annual Caribbean Dreams concert and hosts the weekly radio show, Caribbean Spice on 100.3 Sound FM. Both initiatives promote West Indian and Caribbean music and culture within Waterloo.
Some of the talents identified and showcased by Sookram have gone on to perform professionally. They have gained from Sookram’s efforts to celebrate diversity and to break down barriers between people from all walks of life.
His annual concerts which attract participants from elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. help to nurture and promote pride in youth growing up within the Canadian Caribbean community.
He has hosted his community radio show for many years and has also promoted many grassroots community initiatives or events on-air. Performers, listeners and local businesses alike have gained from Sookram’s personal efforts to bring people together and supporting each other.
Sookram also volunteers his time to coach internationally trained professionals. TESL certified, he has devoted countless hours to teaching English as a second language to newcomers, helping them with homework or with having their certifications evaluated by Canadian standards.
His generous voluntary efforts have assisted others to obtain or to keep employment in a challenging economy, in turn allowing those individuals to support themselves and their families and to feel welcome within their new community.
Narine’s volunteer work goes back to his youth in Guyana, where he created a youth group at just age 14, to enable Guyanese youth to learn and grow while supporting their community. He continues his volunteer involvement with Guyana today, as the founder of Active Vision Charity Association, which provides books and school supplies to Guyanese youth.
Narine Sookram has been an outstanding role model to newcomers to Canada and the local community.
“I have always been community-oriented because I believe it fits perfectly with my values,” Sookram said. “The biggest project usually starts out with the simplest idea and the simplest idea is usually the most important.”
Watkin is most well-known for her work as chair of the Eastbridge Neighbourhood Association for the past seven years, organizing numerous community events that have brought neighbours – from within Eastbridge and out – together.
“I am completely blown away,” Watkin said. “It’s not something that one expects.
“To be recognized in this manner is outstanding.”
Outwater was recognized for his six years as music director for the K-W Symphony. He’s grown the symphony’s reach and impact, forging new links between performing arts, local businesses and others.
“My mission is to be part of the great inspirational fabric of this community because without inspiration there’s no hope,” Outwater said.
The city lauded him as an ambassador for the community for his commitment to connecting with new individuals, new audiences and new talents.
“The City of Waterloo is proud to acknowledge outstanding individuals who have improved the community with their voluntary efforts,” Coun Mark Whaley, a past Waterloo award winner, said.
Recipients receive a pin and their names will be inscribed on a plaque that hangs in council chambers.
Since the award’s creation in 1997, 36 community members have received the Waterloo Award.


Guyanese born Roy Nandram wins Ottawa's Renovator of the Year Award
Roy Nandram...builder on the cutting edge

Roy Nandram, a Guyanese immigrant living in the Ottawa area, stole the limelight at the mid-October 29th annual design awards, taking away five hefty glass trophies, besides earning the prestigious Peoples’ Choice Award for a stunning makeover of an east-side home.
But above all, Nandram was named Renovator of the Year by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.
“I feel pretty good,” Nandram said moments after breaking into a big smile. “I must be doing something right.”
The compact man, who speaks quickly, yet quietly, arrived in Ottawa in 1976 as a teen to study mechanical engineering at Algonquin College. “I built my first house in Guyana at 16 for my sister. It’s where I stay when I go back home.”
Nandram who owns RND Construction doesn’t have the largest offices in the city, but it’s easy to contact his key employees. A look at his website ( shows cellphone numbers listed beside each name. His too.
“I deal with all my clients, from a $10,000 basement renovation to multi-million-dollar projects. I am there if they need help or advice long after the job is over.”
Nandram has methodically forged close links with top architects in the city, earning their trust. He has also built an enviable reputation as a technology guru and a green building advocate long before green was popular.
“Building green is partly a result of my childhood. I was born in a poor country and we had to learn to be very frugal. There was no waste,” he says. He grew up with four brothers and five sisters in a poor village. His father was a rice merchant, earning extra money by building homes. His curious son was always watching, ready to help.
This middle child was the first to immigrate, with a second brother in Ottawa, two in Toronto and one in Boston. He has always valued learning, also earning credentials as an industrial engineer at Algonquin before studying economics at the University of Ottawa.
Nandram latched onto smart green building techniques in 1982 when an employer sent their senior job estimator on a course to learn about insulation techniques. This was about the time he met architect Christopher Simmonds and the two laid the foundation for a long partnership, with Simmonds designing a series of award-winning homes and Nandram building them on budget and on time.
“Roy is technically minded and very practical,” says Simmonds, who hired his colleague to oversee reconstruction of a dated east-side home, earning the prestigious Peoples’ Choice Award for the project. “He can build the house in his head first and then comes back to you with questions and issues, finding easier ways to build and to sequence the trades.
“He can look at our preliminary drawings and he knows what to expect,” says Simmonds. “The more advanced technical drawings come back and the price, the budget is still the same. That’s good.”
“He is up to date on the latest technology and the latest building techniques,” adds Linda Chapman, who has collaborated with Nandram on a house in Alta Vista that earned top green home for the pair. “He’s on the cutting edge. Nandram and Chapman, who have deep roots in Ottawa’s green community, also teamed up in 2010 to win green honours for a large custom Georgian home in Rockcliffe.
Nandram has earned the respect of colleagues across the city as he continually researched new materials and technologies for saving the most money, while cutting energy costs.
“Roy is passionate about building a good home, without compromise,” says energy consultant Ross Elliott, owner of Homesol Building Solutions, a company that tests homes, ensuring they meet Ontario’s tougher green building standards. “That means building an exceptionally energy-efficient green home as a matter of course, just because he truly believes that’s what a good builder should do for their client.”
Through the years, he has also earned the trust of his neighbours, renovating three homes and building another three new homes on a short street in Alta Vista. Chris Simmonds designed Nandram’s own house on the street.
“They still all talk to me. Some are good friends and we have dinner together. What better recommendation can you get?” he asks quietly.
Nandram told the same story to judges interviewing a trio of renovators vying for honours as Renovator of the Year. He was describing the renovation of a kitchen and basement of a 1950s bungalow a few doors away from his own house, showing how he took down walls to open an apple green kitchen to the living room, while also realigning stairs leading down to a newly finished basement, with open space for exercise equipment and a crisp bathroom with a large walk-in shower and bright red colour blocks set against white tiles.
The judges simply looked at each other, captivated by the narrative.
They had their winner.
(Ottawa Citizen)


Hinduism Summit focuses on ancient spiritual science
At the inaugural Hinduism Summit, from left: Shri Dewang Gadoya, Ms. Kristen Mandziuk and Shri Yogesh Gandre

A Hinduism Summit (Dharmajagruti Sabha) was inaugurated on November 24, 2012 at Learna Centre where followers of Hindu Dharma were told how to live a Sattvik or spiritually pure life according to the ancient Hindu science.
There was the recognition that in the present age (Kaliyuga) the average person does not do the required spiritual practice, hence there is not only environmental and noise pollution, but spiritual pollution which has far reaching effects on the mental and moral state of individuals and society.
Three speakers shared tips, tools, and strategies on how to increase the spiritual purity in the environment through living a more spiritually pure life.
Shri Dewang Gadoya shared his thoughts on “Know Denigration, Preserve Hinduism”. He described the assaults on Hinduism in the form of denigration of Deities and Hindu concepts. He pointed out that today one can represent Deities or symbols of Hinduism in fashion or art, however the designer sees fit, as a form of “freedom of speech”. Examples of these include M. F. Husain’s naked paintings of Hindu Goddesses and Nina Paley’s derogatory cartoon of Lord Rama, called “Sita Sings the Blues”. Shri Gadoya suggested that Deities have a spiritually correct form which emits spiritual purity (sattvikta) in the atmosphere and by denigrating that, we not only reduce its sattvikta, but spread distressing energies.
Ms. Kristen Mandziuk from Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) gave an informative lecture on “Sattvik Living.” Ms. Mandziuk pointed out that the ancient Scriptures on achardharma have a spiritually scientific root based on the subtle basic components of creation, namely Sattva, Raja and Tama. She explained that measures can be taken in daily life to increase one's sattvikta and reduce the raja-tama such as by eating a vegetarian diet. She also dealt with the roles of clothes, hair, jewelry and even implements in worship which can be made more sattvik.
Shri Yogesh Gandre from Forum for Hindu Awakening, discussed “Understanding, Living and Preserving Hinduism”. He gave a wealth of practical suggestions that can be implemented to experience the divinity that is in all of creation. He stated that divinity cannot be comprehended by mere intellect, but by practising sattvik achar, observing holy days as per the Hindu lunar calendar, and by doing spiritual practice. He suggested that the Hindu Tithis (holy days as per the lunar calendar) give more benefit than following the Western calendar because the deity principle on those days is 1000 times make them more active than other days of the year. He also explained the correct spiritual practice of chanting God`s Name, as well as spiritual healing remedies.
A video was also shown on “How to take Darshan in a Temple”. After the presentation there was a question and answer session.


Music for Meditation

Saturday December 8, 7.00 pm at 569 Spadina Avenue (Multifaith Centre U of T), South of Harbord Ave., performed by Sangit Surabhi, Pavaka Ensemble voice, western and eastern instruments composed by Sri Chinmoy. Info: 647-748-8513.


Free CPR & AED skills training

A free public CPR Skills & AED (automated external defibrillator) Awareness event will take place on Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm at the Vedic Cultural Centre, 4345 14th Avenue, Markham, (light lunch will be provided).
The first 120 participants to register will receive a free Heart&Stroke Foundation CPR Anytime™ Family & Friends™ kit (one per family, valued at $40). Everyone who completes the course will receive a CPR participation card.
To register, please contact Firdaus Ali, Heart and Stroke Foundation at 416-629-1689, email or Sharada Bhajan at 905-686-2402, email


Bhagavad Katha for late Pt Misir

Shrimati Dalia Persaud Misir, the 10 children and grand children of the late Pt Sirju Persaud Misir will host a 4-session Bhagavad Katha in memory of her husband, their father and grand-father starting Thursday Dec 6 and ending Sunday Dec 9 at the Vishnu Mandir, 8640 Yonge St, Richmond Hill. Reading sessions are: Dec 6: 7 to 9 pm; Dec 7 & 8: 7 to 9:30 pm; Dec 9: 10 am to 12 noon. Officiating: Dr B. Doobay and Pt Bhoj Sharma. Info: 905-927-2215, 416-275-7911 or 905-886-1724.


MGO Bhagwat Puran Yagna

The Mahatma Gandhi Organization of Canada will hold a 3-Session Bhagwat Puran Yagna on December 7, 8 & 9, 2012 to celebrate its 30th anniversary and to commemorate the 10th year of the passing of the late Mr. Toolseeram Paltoo, Founder of the Organization at the Gandhi Bhavan, 722 Lansdowne Ave. Toronto. Officiating: Pt. Lallman Misir, Pt. Bholanauth Misir & Pt. Ishwar Doobay. Sessions as follows: Fri & Sat 7th & 8th - 6 to 9:30pm (Puja at 6 pm); Sunday 9th - 9am to 1:00 pm (Puja at 9:00 am); Sunday - 11:00am: Speakers - Hon Jonah Schein, MPP, Davenport & others. Info: 416/438-4962, 905/470-1306, 905/237-8051.


Prayers, meditation for New Years

Please join us for Shiva prayers and meditation on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2013 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at Arya Samaj Scarborough Mandir, 2370 Midland Avenue, Unit #B10 (between Progress and Sheppard, opposite Pitfield traffic light).
Prayers will be held every Monday, starting January 7, 2013
from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. All are welcome. Info Pt. Laikram Tiwari @ 416-451-7716; Yasmin Rupnarine @ 416-775-7246 or e-mail:

< Guyana
Books >