On Nov. 27 at the Toronto Board of Trade, 10 esteemed Hispanic-Canadian individuals received awards at an event that was all about “recognizing top achievement among the Hispanic-Canadian community, right across the country,” says Elisa Tortola, Manager of International Recruitment and Marketing at York University. York was a national sponsor of the event, with Dr. Janet Morrison, Vice-Provost Students, attending and speaking on behalf of the university.
Dr. Morrison was quoted as saying, “It gives me great pleasure to celebrate the achievements of this year’s award recipients. It is my hope that York’s 500+ Hispanic students will become future leaders and join the community of inspirational Hispanic Canadians.”
In attendance at the 2013 “10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians” awards show was an audience of approximately 300 people, composed of past winners, community members, members of the media, diplomats and executives, all of whom came out to support and celebrate this year’s winners. The successful nominees come from five provinces and represent eight countries of origin.
The Honourable Chris Alexander, Canada’s Minister of Immigration; Mr. Ian Troop, former CEO of Toronto’s upcoming 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games; and Dr. Janet Morrison, York University’s Vice-Provost Students, bestowed the awards upon the following eminent Hispanic-Canadian men and women:
- Alfredo Caxaj – Founder and Executive Director of Sunfest, Canada’s second-largest music festival
- Laura Cuner – Founder of Avafina, a profitable organic foods firm with sales of $14 million in six years
- Dr. Hugo De Burgos – Anthropologist, activist, filmmaker and professor at the University of British Columbia
- Ximena Muñoz – The first Fairness Commissioner in Manitoba, appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor
- Dr. Juana Muñoz-Liceras – Linguist, professor of Spanish and PhD thesis supervisor at the University of Ottawa
- Mario Pochat – Founder of the Vancouver Animation School and winner of the CIRA award for innovation
- Saul Polo – President of the Liberal Party of Quebec
- Guillermo Schible – Lawyer and co-founder of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Ontario
- Fernando Triana – Founder of Soy Hispano TV and the Latin Heritage Carnival in Edmonton
- Héctor Vergara – Executive Director of the Manitoba Soccer Association and record-holding referee of the FIFA World Cup Games
Tortola says of the award ceremony, “It’s just great to be a part of something like that, to hear their stories, and to hear about their contributions and what they’re doing in their various communities.”
York has strong ties to the Latin American community locally as well as globally, and thus it proudly sponsored the event. Of the 10 awards, five were given out by Dr. Morrison. As well, York University had a table at the show with a number of publications that were handed out to attendees. In this manner, the event represented a way to not only support high achievement in the Hispanic-Canadian community, but also to promote York University and its connection to this thriving community.
The award program’s director, Mauricio Ospina, was quoted as saying, “As Canada’s creative class, Hispanics continue to make history.” Canada is home to 740,061 Hispanics, who are on average five years younger and more likely to hold university degrees than other Canadians, and most of whom live in the Greater Toronto Area, according to Statistics Canada data from the 2006 census. A recent study also reveals that Spanish is the third most commonly spoken language in Canada.
Private sector social enterprise Canadian Hispanic Business Alliance organized the event, and nominations were declared open this past July in Saskatoon. Past awardees met Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who officially and personally recognizes the program, with a similar meeting planned for the near future.
The event’s national sponsors were York University, TLN TV, Ingle Insurance and Copa Airlines. Supporting sponsors were Seneca College, Andes Travel and private English school ILAC. The Embassy of Columbia was a Patron, with other Latin countries expected to join in next year’s awards show.
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