Most immigrants have no choice but to move at a quick pace to catch up in their new environment.
Jamaican-born five-time Olympian Donovan Bailey was once Canada’s fastest immigrant, winning four gold medals at the 1995 World championships in Gothenburg and the Atlanta Games the following year. He was also part of the national 4 x 100-metre team that captured gold at the 1997 World championships.
The world renowned athlete-turned-entrepreneur was honoured recently as one of this year’s Top 25 Canadian immigrants.
Canadian Immigrant Magazine and Royal Bank of Canada sponsored the second annual people’s choice initiative which celebrates the remarkable achievements of outstanding Canadian newcomers.
More than 20,000 Canadians participated in the online vote.
Bailey migrated to Canada at age 13 and played basketball in high school in Oakville before taking up track seriously in 1994 while working as a stockbroker. Three years later, the Sheridan College Business Administration graduate set world outdoor and indoor records over 100- and 50-metres respectively.
The first Canadian to legally run 100-metres in less than 10 seconds — at the Atlanta Olympics where he posted his personal best 9.86 secs. — Bailey also set the 50-metre indoor record — 5.56 secs. which still stands as the world’s best time over the short distance — in Reno, Nevada seven months earlier.
Bailey and the rest of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants were presented with commemorative certificates, a lapel pin and $500 donations to go to a charity of their choice.
“Everyone who was nominated truly had a noteworthy story and RBC is extremely pleased to recognize and celebrate some of Canada’s most outstanding individuals,” said Camon Mak, the financial institution’s director of Multicultural Markets.
A total of 75 finalists were shortlisted by a panel of Canadian Immigrant magazine judges.
Canadian Immigrant founder Nick Noorani said the finalists have contributed to Canada in a big way.
“Our winners come from six provinces which shows how much immigrants love every corner of Canada and its people,” he said. “I am particularly thrilled that we have winners this year from Saskatchewan, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, attesting to the true national stature of these awards.”
Bailey, broadcaster Ian Hanomansing and Dr. Jagessar Das were the only Caribbean immigrants to make the select list.
Hanomansing, who holds a Law degree, was born in Trinidad & Tobago and grew up in Sackville, New Brunswick. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Political Science and Sociology from Mount Allison University where he was valedictorian. He has won six national university debating and public speaking championships.
Hanomansing has covered a wide variety of assignments in a 24-year broadcasting career with CBC. He’s currently a reporter and occasional host with The National.
A goldsmith and tailor in Guyana, Das migrated to Canada in 1955 at age 24 and settled in Delta, British Columbia where he has enjoyed a successful medical career over the past 43 years.
He and his family founded the Guru Kabir Association of Canada and he’s a founding member of the Global Clergy Association of Canada and the author of five books.