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Winners of Calgary’s 2018 Immigrants of Distinction Awards unveiled

Stephen Smith

Eman Katem

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Hyder Hassan says “dreaming big” has played an important role in his success since he moved to Canada from Pakistan with his family in 1999.

Hassan, who is now Head of Wealth at First Calgary Financial in Calgary, Alberta, was recently named one of the city’s 2018 Immigrants of Distinction, taking the Achievement Under 35 Award.

The annual Immigrants of Distinction Awards were created by Immigrant Services Calgary in 1997 to honour the contributions and exceptional achievements of immigrants and refugees in the Calgary area. This year saw 13 awards and scholarships handed out at the Immigrants of Distinction Awards gala on March 9.

In his position as Head of Wealth, Hassan is responsible for First Calgary Financial’s wealth management strategy and oversees a portfolio worth approximately $500 million.

But there’s a lot more to Hassan than big money — he’s also the co-founder of FullSoul Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting maternal health in Uganda.

Since 2013, FullSoul Canada has outfitted Ugandan hospitals there with more than 65,000 medical supply kits for the safe delivery of children and the protection of their mothers.

Hassan dedicated his Achievement Under 35 Award to his friends and those he’s worked with as a mentor, citing it as “validation to never give up on your dreams.”

“Continue to fly your kite gracefully against the wind,” he said.

Asked what advice he has for newcomers to Canada, Hassan said knowing your “strengths zone” and letting that knowledge guide your career path is important. And be sure to tap into the local infrastructure that’s there to help you settle into your new life.

To find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs, fill out a free assessment form.

“Meet the good people at Immigrant Services Calgary, career counsellors, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn for coffees,” he said. “Join Toastmasters, Rotaract or the Rotary Club. Create your own networking circle via Meetup or Kijiji ads. And remember that you can always showcase your leadership via volunteerism until you start getting noticed by future employers.”

Recent statistics from Canada’s 2016 census reveal that immigrants make up nearly 33 per cent of the labour market in the city of Calgary.

In fact, the number of recent immigrants in the prairie province of Alberta has been steadily increasing over the years. It is currently a popular destination for recent immigrants in the prairie region of Canada.

2018 Immigrants of Distinction Awards Winners

Winner Award and profile*
Achievement Under 35 Award

Hyder Hassan moved to Canada from Pakistan in 1999. As a financial advisor, Mr Hassan has worked at spearheading the wealth management strategy at First Calgary Financial and overlooking the institution’s portfolio, which is worth nearly have a billion dollars.

Mr Hassan’s work in developing countries as the co-founder of FullSoul Canada resulted in the support of over 65,000 hospitals by providing medical supplies and gear needed to help medical practitioners.

Business Award

Marjan Eggermont moved to Canada from the Netherlands in 1986. Her combination of artistic creativity and engineering results in innovative visual forms.

Ms Eggermont also founded the biomimicry journal ZQ, which sheds light on the link between science and design in the area of biologically-inspired representations. She continues to inspire youth in the community her integration of creativity to the field of engineering.

Community Service Award

In 1999, Miroslav Reljic came to Canada to escape the civil war in Croatia. With limited English language proficiency, he focused on bettering his skills until he became fluent in one of Canada’s official languages.

Mastering the English language was not his only area of personal development. Mr Reljic also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Calgary. He now services many over 5,000 Canadian companies, including TransCanada. Mr Reljic was also named one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian immigrants in 2017!

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award

Dr. Rupinder Toor relocated to Canada from India in 1974. Nearly 30 years later, Dr. Toor founded the North East Calgary Women’s clinic, which helps mitigate the language and cultural barriers in health care services provided to South Asian women.

The clinic provided services to over 50,000 women since it was established. Dr. Toor is the recipient of various awards, including Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Kamal Botros moved to Canada from Egypt in 1975. He has over 38 years of experience working as a mechanical engineer with a concentration on various fluid flow problems, including equipment dynamics in connection to oil and gas processing.

Over the course of his career, he worked on significant innovations in relation to supersonic ejectors, sound depression, and more.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Thomas Brown moved to Canada from the United Kingdom in the late 60s. His career is in the field of ice mechanics and structural engineering. He is renowned for his involvement in the construction of the Confederation Bridge as the principal ice consultant.

Over the years he received many awards and has mentored many aspiring engineers as the head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Calgary.


Organizational Diversity Award

Trico Homes is the only company to win in this year’s Immigrants of Distinction Awards. The company was created in 1992 and over the years has contributed to the promotion of values, such as diversity and best practices in the workplace and community as a whole.

The company also sponsors many cultural celebrations such as the Global Fest, China Town Street Festival and more.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Award

Dr. Gobal Achari is the second award winner from India. He moved to Canada in 1989 and is currently a professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Engineering.

Dr. Achari is the recipient of many awards from professional organizations and he is work in the use of technology to remediate environmental contaminates has impacted communities that have been affected by wastewater produced by industrial production.

Youth Scholarships Award

Jenny Liao relocated from China in 2001. Her current research focuses on the potential treatments for patients with aggressive brain cancer. She works at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Youth Council where she helps with organizing yearly fundraisers for the institution.

Youth Scholarships Award

After moving from the United States to Canada in 2014, Kevin Lin co-founded InterCal Music, an organization that primarily focuses on supporting the future of talented high school musicians.

Mr Lin is a First Violinist with the Calgary Youth Orchestra and is also the Co-Founder and Content Director of the Calgary Junior High Team Match Attack.

Youth Scholarships Award

Kirsty McGowan moved to Canada from Australia in 2011. She has contributed to the community in Calgary by raising $2 million for breast Cancer research as a Co-Race Director for the CIBC Run for the Cure in 2016 and 2017.

Youth Scholarships Award

Mehul Gupta moved to Canada in 2001. He received the Governor General of Canada Academic Medal for the highest academic average in his high school graduating class. He also helped establish RANA Youth, a non-profit Organization that focuses on improving the health and wellness of the South Asian Community. The organization donated $40,000 for brain cancer research since 2004.

Youth Scholarships Award

Ruth Legese moved to Canada from Ethiopia in 2004. Her passion is in helping improve cardiac care in Ethiopia. She has founded the Habesha Students’ Society (HSS) at the University of Calgary and has organized successful fundraisers, awareness initiatives, and cultural events. She is currently a Biomedical Science student at the University of Calgary.

* Winners’ profile information and pictures from Immigrant Services Calgary

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