Western French Studies professor Henri Boyi and Medicine/Microbiology & Immunology professor Lakshman Gunaratnam, along with alumnus Navjeet ‘Bob’ Dhillon, have been named finalist for the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award for 2015. The annual event, given out by Canadian Immigrant Magazine, in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, since 2009, is the first Canadian national award program that recognizes immigrants’ achievements from all walks of life.
The trio was chosen as three of 75 finalists from more than 630 nominees by a panel of judges, consisting of Canadian Immigrant Magazine editorial staff as well as immigrant and ethnic community leaders.
Boyi arrived in Canada in 1994, after the genocide catastrophe that struck his home country of Burundi in October 1993. Today, he is passionate about teaching the French language and understanding the process of learning in multicultural and multilingual environments. His signature course, Rwanda: Culture, Society and Reconstruction, involves a five-week international service-learning experience in Rwanda. Started five years ago, the course extends Western’s ongoing partnership with the Kigali Health Institute and provides students with a unique opportunity to learn about Rwandan society and about themselves.
Gunaratnam arrived in Canada more than a decade ago, after his family fled civil unrest in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. Today, his research lab at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry focuses on acute kidney injury and renal transplantation – funded by Krescent New Investigation Award and a Schulich-Scientist Award – to help find a solution to prolong the lifespan of transplanted organs.
Japanese-born of Indian heritage, Dhillon completed his MBA at the Ivey Business School in 1998. While his mother worked night shifts for Canada Post, Dhillon paid his way through university buying, renovating and selling undervalued and foreclosed homes. Today, he is the president and CEO of Mainstreet Equity Corp., as well as the founder and largest shareholder. Mainstreet has achieved a 1,270 per cent total return on investment over the last 10 years, making it Canada’s highest performance real estate company.
The Top 25 will be determined through online voting until May 11. Winners will be announced in June. Vote at canadianimmigrant.ca/canadas-top-25-immigrants/vote.
Last year, the Immigrant Award winners included Western President Amit Chakma, along with Western alumni Farah Mohamed, MA’96, Alan Diner, BA ’90, and Dr. Surinder Singh Khurana, DDS’06.