By RON FANFAIR
John Rodrigues, the mayor of Greater Sudbury, was one of the many Guyanese honoured last weekend for their outstanding contributions to Canada.
The colourful and outspoken Rodrigues was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award at the ninth annual Guyana Awards (Canada) Saturday night. The event is held to coincide with Guyana’s Independence anniversary which is on May 26. The only English-speaking South American country achieved its independence in 1966.
Born 72 years ago in the rural town of Bartica, Rodrigues attended Sacred Heart School and St. Stanislaus College in Georgetown and worked with the Royal Bank of Canada for a year before emigrating to Canada in 1956 to pursue a post-secondary education.
After graduating from Toronto Teachers College, he taught in St. Catharines briefly before re-locating to Sudbury in 1962 where he joined St. Paul Catholic School in Coniston and became principal the following year. He also served as a local president of the Catholic Teachers Union and was elected provincial president in 1968.
Rodrigues entered municipal politics in the early 1970s when he was elected to Coniston Town Council and he served as the New Democratic Party member for Nickel Belt from 1972 to 1988. He went back into teaching in 1994, serving as a vice-principal before retiring in 2005 and returning to municipal politics where he made a successful run for mayor in 2006.
“John embodies the exceptional quality of nominations we have had this year and in the past,” said Guyana’s honorary Consul General in Toronto, Danny Doobay. “When you look at what he has achieved in Canada, which is something that many Guyanese are not even aware of, we must all be proud.
“As these awards have evolved, we have unearthed jewels in excellent people of Guyanese background who are all doing magnificent work – some of it ground-breaking – in Canada. By showcasing these talented people, we hope that they will be role models and benchmarks for our community.”
Dr. Anne Dipchand, whose late father, Dr. Cecil Dipchand, was a distinguished author and professor at Dalhousie University, was honoured for academic excellence. The pediatric cardiologist is head of the Heart Transplant Program at the Hospital for Sick Children and associate director of the Sick Kids Transplant Centre.
Even though the University of Toronto medical school graduate recognized that cardiology would be a demanding field, she accepted the challenge because she recognized it could provide her with an opportunity to help patients and their families.
“Despite Anne’s heavy workload that included the presidency of the medical society, she received the highest standing in all four years in the medical program and she got the highest mark in her third medical year,” said Diana Alli, the co-founder of the U of T Health Sciences summer mentorship program. “She’s definitely one of the most brilliant students to graduate from the program.”
Fareed Amin, who last December was appointed Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing with responsibility for local governments, land use and planning, affordable housing and building regulations, was honoured with a Leadership award. He oversees a ministry with nearly 800 employees and a budget of close to $1 billion. He has also served as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of International Trade and Investment, and as the Deputy Minister responsible for Seniors and Women’s Issues.
Amin graduated from the University of Guyana with a degree in Geography and Planning, completed a Certificate in Public Administration at the University of Toronto and obtained an MBA from Queen’s University.
Distinguished epidemiologist, Dr. John Farley, who practices internal medicine in Vancouver and is recognized as an expert on the blood-borne infectious disease, Hepatitis C, was presented with a Special Achievement award.
Farley, who has criticized the British Columbia government for denying life-saving treatment to Hepatitis C patients, owns medical disease clinics and infectious disease consultation services in Vancouver and Abbotsford, British Columbia where he mainly treats infectious diseases.
Maple Leaf Wheelchair president and owner, Chris Mohan, was honoured for business excellence; community worker, Joy Simon, was recognized for community service and Indo-Caribbean World founding publisher, Harry Ramkhelawan, received the Media and Culture award.
Guyana Awards scholarships were also presented to 17-year-old twins, Angela and Amanda Brijmohan, Shauntel Parkinson, Devani Singh and Vancouver student, Tara Omaid, who was unable to attend the event.
Angela Brijmohan, who aspires to be a cardiologist, will enter the University of Toronto’s St. George campus in September to pursue Life Sciences studies while her sister will attend the U of T’s Scarborough campus to study Biology.
The twins are Woburn Collegiate graduates, as is Parkinson, who has also been accepted to the U of T where she will pursue Life Science Studies. Devani Singh, 21, recently graduated with honours in English from the University of Toronto and has accepted a full scholarship to read for a Masters in Medieval Literature at Oxford University in England. She intends to obtain a doctorate in the same field. Her goal is to become a university professor.
A member of the prestigious Golden Key International Honour Society, Omaid is completing her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.