British Columbians among Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners

Anar Popatia. Submitted Photo, Bini Ball.

Anar Popatia. Submitted Photo, Bini Ball.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Like many new immigrants, Anar Popatia came to Canada for a better education and a better life.

She travelled from Kenya to Ontario, where she enrolled as an international student at Brock University to study business and economics.

Now, twenty-seven-years later, Popatia is a successful business woman — a partner in a family wealth management practice under Assante Wealth Management.

She credits her success to focusing on the positives instead of the inevitable struggles immigrants face in a new country.

“I focused on the many gifts I received as a newcomer: so much kindness and generosity from my peers and professors and a host family that took me in as their own,” she told Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

“These things were precious to me; they made me feel like I belonged.”

And on Thursday night her hard work and positivity paid off as she was one of 25 people to receive a Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award at the W. Georgia St. Royal Bank of Canada, presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

According to magazine editor Margaret Jetelina, they started the awards five years ago as a way to recognize the hard work of Canadian immigrants.

“For themselves, it sort of recognizes that they made a great decision in immigrating to Canada and that their contributions are recognized,” she told Vancouver Desi. “(And it) gives them recognition for what they do and how they become nation builders and have really contributed to the society here.”

Popatia was the first ethno-cultural female president of the Canadian Club of Vancouver and is involved with the Multicultural Advisory Council of B.C. and the Aga Khan Foundation.

She credits her smooth transition in Canada to this community engagement, so her advice to newcomers is to be an “engaged citizen.”

“Each one of us of comes to this country with different experiences, different stories, but when we arrive, we must take on the responsibility of being contributing members to society,” she said. “If new Canadians do not contribute, we all lose. Not only do newcomers miss opportunities to forge friendships, explore new careers, improve their language skills and feel more a part of this country, (but) Canada, where we celebrate our diversity and multiculturalism, loses out as a whole.”

Sara Eftekhar. Submitted photo.

Sara Eftekhar. Submitted photo.

Fourth-year-University of British Columbia nursing student, Sara Eftekhar, was also awarded as one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Thursday night.

At eight-years-old Eftekhar immigrated from Iran to Richmond, B.C. The transition at such a young age was tough as the only Iranian student, but once she volunteered at school and got involved in her community, she was soon seen as a leader.

“I started to realize that coming from and understanding two cultures really benefited me and was actually a strength rather than a weakness,” she said.

Eftekar is a past president of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadian Youth Group and today helps newcomers adjust to life in Vancouver.

Other award recipients include NBA All-Star and philanthropist Steve Nash, dancer and choreographer Wen Weig Wang and other community leaders from across the country.

The top 25 were chosen from over 600 nominations. To see the full list visit canadianimmigrant.ca/rbctop25.

lcahute@theprovince.com

twitter.com/larissacahute

Related stories:

Women, immigrants lead the way among Canada’s educated classes: StatsCan

Canada growing dependent on temporary foreign workers

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