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Sikh Centennial Gala 2014 – Statement by the Board of Directors, Sikh Foundation

Sikh Centennial Gala 2014 – Statement by the Board of Directors, Sikh Foundation of Canada
May 07, 2014

The Sikh Centennial Gala, founded in 1997 to commemorate a century of Sikh settlement in Canada, is the annual flagship event of the Sikh Foundation of Canada.

The Gala celebrates the engagement of Sikh Canadians in the success of this nation, and recognizes individuals – Sikhs and non-Sikhs – from all walks of life, with awards for outstanding achievement.

The individuals recognized at the Gala held at the Royal Ontario Museum, April 26, 2014 were:

Professsor Hargurdeep Saini, VP, University of Toronto, and Principal of U of T, Mississauga, for Leadership in Education;

Mr. Ajay S. Banga, CEO, Mastercard, for Global Business Leadership and for contibution to cultural and social programs across the world; and Ms. Manjit Minhas, CEO, Minhas Craft Brewery, for Entrepreneurial Excellence in building a $120 million organization in 10 years, creating employment for hundreds of Canadians.

Some have taken issue with the choice of Ms. Minhas for an award, due to her organization’s association with alcohol. We acknowledge the views expressed, but such objections are misplaced – they could be extended to areas such as the entire hospitality sector, and indeed many others. Ms. Minhas has made a valuable contribution; in doing so she has demonstrated a strong work ethic and determination, especially remarkable in a sector dominated by men.

Another issue stems from a misunderstanding that the Gala is a Vaisakhi event. This is not the case; the Gala is a celebration of Sikh settlement in Canada.

The issues have prompted defamatory and false statements regarding the Board of the Foundation. Such comments are divisive and regrettable, especially when directed against a Foundation which has mounted exceptional exhibitions of Sikh art, sponsored academic conferences, arranged lectures on Sikh art and history, and provided Scholarships to Sikh students in Ontario.

At the Gala this year, the Foundation provided scholarships to three outstanding students to pursue studies in their chosen disciplines of engineering, architecture and business management.

The 2014 Gala has been the most successful event to date. It has received accolades from sponsors and guests, who included the major mayoralty candidates for Toronto, and the leaders and representatives of every major political party at both provincial and federal levels.

The Gala is organized by a Committee of talented individuals who dedicate time and effort each year to mount a very substantial event; we take pride in them, and in their success.

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