By Susan Hickman
Photos by Chris Roussakis
Sheema Khan, a well-known Muslim activist, writer and popular speaker who grew up in Canada, credits her success to living in this country.
One of 33 Indo-Canadians profiled in the 2017 edition of The A-List, a glossy publication that celebrates the success and contributions of Indo-Canadians and “friends of India,” Khan says she was surprised to be featured in this year’s book.
“I feel humbled,” she said during the official launch of the third edition of the publication at the Carleton University Art Gallery on March 9. “You read what other people have done and you ask: ‘Why am I here?’ You realize that your success really is a reflection of Canada, where hard work leads to success. It’s a testament to the country and to the people who built it.”
Four other A-listers attended the launch: Chaitan Pettukola, founder of the $50-million company Bitebank Media; Sanjay Sharma, developer of the unique MBA program in sustainable entrepreneurship at the Grossman School of Business of Vermont; Virendra Jha, now retired after 42 years with the Canadian space program; and Fraser Taylor, director of Carleton’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre and a globally renowned cartographer who has advised India on mapping issues.
Working Hard to Achieve Canadian Dreams
“All of the A-listers have similar stories to how they achieved their own Canadian dreams,” said Raj Grewal, MP for Brampton East. Giving a nod to The A-List’s author, journalist Ajit Jain, for his passion in compiling the content, Grewal spoke of his own parents’ struggles and hard work that allowed him to succeed.
“This is why we are all here today. My challenge to all of you today,” he said, “is that the power of mentorship is extremely important. We have 33 profiles in this book, but how do we develop the next 33?”
The success of the Indo-Canadian community is “just another Canadian success story,” he said.
Jain agreed. “We Indo-Canadians are thriving because of our hard work.”
The 2017 edition of the book carries a collection of colourful stories, including those of film director and writer Deepa Mehta, Hockey Night in Punjabi host, Harnarayan Singh, and businessman and philanthropist. Inder Sharma, whose donations have helped educate thousands of young girls in India. Two Indo-Canadians who recently received the Order of Canada will likely appear in the 2018 edition – art collector and dealer Ash K. Prakash and social justice advocate Srinivasan Reddy.
The A-List: Mentors and Success Stories
“All A-listers are mentors, eminent and successful people amongst persons of Indian origin in Canada,” Jain says in the introduction to the book. “Several (of the close to 1.3 million Indo-Canadians) have made their presence eminently felt in fields as diverse as business, industry, real estate development, architecture, hotel management and ownership, politics, medical science, pure science, academics, and broadcasting and journalism. They have impacted Canadian society . . . in a positive and creative manner.”
Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte noted that Jain publishes The A-List every year through his volunteer efforts “because he believes in the bridge between Canada and India. And I thank him for making us know who these people are.”
It is appropriate to launch the book at Carleton’s Canada-India Centre for Excellence, said Runte, because, “we share Canadian history and we will continue to share the future. Together we will make a difference.”