Asian Heritage Society recognizes outstanding community leaders

Asian Heritage Society recognizes outstanding community leaders

As the Asian Heritage Month of May is celebrated coast to coast, the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba held the 1st fundraising gala, May 3rd, at Clarion Hotel, to recognize five individuals for community leadership awards and two performing groups for their active involvement in their communities.

The individual awardees include Dr. Roland Guzman and Dr. Irene Guzman considered as the pillars of the Filipino community since they arrived in Winnipeg in 1959. From then on, the husband and wife team involved in the community in various ways. They were able to gather few Filipinos with the idea of organizing into a group for common purpose of uniting the Filipino professionals, the doctors, the nurses and the teachers. And in the late 60s and 70s, thousand of garment workers arrived to work in the booming fashion industry in Winnipeg. Led by them, the newcomers were to feel at home and got better settlement because of the welcoming gesture by the Filipino pioneers, by providing them with home and other facilities. Thus, Dr. Roland and his wife Dr. Irene were the most wanted sponsors in the many weddings.

Dr. Roland Guzman, a pathologist; and Dr. Irene Guzman, a family physician, continued to serve the community in various capacities. In the late 90s, he organized the Philippine Centre Commission, with the help of other volunteers, to plan the building of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, which in the early 2000’s, the building came into reality and became as the centre of various cultural, social and economic activities. Dr. Roland Guzman was appointed by the Philippine government as Honorary Consul and later on, as Honorary Consul General, to serve the growing Filipino community. And this made them much busier to attend to the needs of the growing Filipino community at the time when the Provincial Nominee Program had contributed the rapid increase of the Filipinos arriving and living in Manitoba.

Both are now retired from their professions, both are still active in fund-raising and other community events.

Another award honouree is Sadao Ono who brought the tradition of sushi preparation in Winnipeg when he opened his restaurant EDOHEI in 1988 at the downtown area, considered as the 1st sushi bar in Winnipeg

Ono arrived in Canada in 1972, and worked and opened a sushi bar in Winnipeg. And thru the help of his wife Sachiko, Makoto,his son; and Mari, her daughter, worked hard at EDOHEI, creating an authentic Japanese cuisine. The Ono family took great pride in presenting the Japanese cuisine to the Winnipeg Community. They used only the freshest ingredients from select international seafood markets such as Vancouver, Halifax, New Zealand, Australia and Hawai. EDOHEI proved to be a very popular sushi bar with Winnipeg and his clients from the neighboring city and towns. Ono-san mentored many assistants who learned literally at his hand. Leading these trained assistants to open their own sushi and fusion restaurants over the years in Winnipeg and elsewhere.

On February 25, 2012, after almost 25 years, Edohei Sushi and Japanese Restaurant closed its door for good. And the Ono family has taken its rightful place in creating a legacy for the Japanese dining in Winnipeg.

Ono-san’s culinary legacy continues at the Japanese Cultural Centre, 180 McPhillips St, where he holds Japanese cooking classes, and his active involvement in the kitchen with the Centre’s regular Donburi lunches, Ramen days and other major centre’s special events. And JCAM’s Japan Pavilion at Folklorama, Ono-san’s legacy in the sushi and in the Japanese cuisine continues.

Kamta Roy Singh has a long history of community volunteering with sport, cultural and community events
His business acumen, as the CEO of Singh Entreprises and KRS Singh Inc,.owner of four Tim Horton’s franchises and his total involvement in the community being the current president and one of tis founding members, of the Caribean Canada Health Education, are two powerful engines to ignite various activities in the community. Singh is the past president of the Guyanese Association of Manitoba for 8 years and is presently as an executive member; he is also the past executive member of WIICCOM, Indo Canadian Arst and Cultural Centre, Rama Krishna Temple Passage of Canada. And currently, he is also the president of Lions Cricket and Sports Cluba s well as the Manitoba Hindu Seniors organization.

As a sport enthusiasts, Kamta plays and coackes cricket for over 27 years. And he played and represented the sport in Manitoba in both the western and the provincial criket tournaments. He volunteers with the Tim Bits Sports and does sponsorship for many young individuals attending the Tim Horton’s Children Camp every year. He is also responsible to build two cricket grounds and two cricket nets in Winnipeg and the first artificial cricket pitch and practice nets in Manitoba.

Various awards were given to Singh and these include Entrepreneur Award of the Year by the Guyanese Association of Manitoba in 2006; a Business Man of the Year Award from the Filipino Business Council of Manitoba in 2013; Recognition award from India School of Dance in 2014 and 29016; recently, Singh was awarded as Volunteer of the year by Maples Elwick Community Centre and in 2018, he was recognized by the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences for his continued distinguished service over the past several years for his contributions made for promoting heart health. And added to these awards and numerous community volunteerism, he has been invited to speak as an entrepreneur at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba respectively. In 2005, the U of M produced a video of him called “Manitoba is my Home”.

Pamela Wong’s community award honouree given recently by the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba is another feather in her cap, adding to some of the most memorable awards like Order of Venezuela,honoring Women of Distinction in 1992; and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012!
Wong is currently the president of the Yellow River Chinese Association since 1999. And she involved in the founding of the Asian Heritage Manitoba in 2002 where she actively participated in organizing many perfoming shows for 11 years representing Chinese culture. Pamela has also participated in a variety of volunteerism at the hospital, personal care home, Age & Opportunity Seniors Centre, Winnipeg Chinese Cultural Centre, Folklorama Chinese and in the Indo-China Chinese Pavilions.

Through to her nature of volunteerism, she was the president of Youth Social Welfare Centre in Sumshulpo Kowloon from 1971 to 1973. Then she moved to Venezuela in 1975 and spent 22 yers and being involved as president of Women and Nuns Community La Villa de Cura and the Board of Director of Chinese Venezuela Association in Caracas. In 1991, Pamela moved to Canada and became the president of the Venezuela Association of Manitoba for two years and organized a fundraising event for the Venezuela Flood Relief in Winnipeg.

The two performing award honourees include Manitoba Great Wall Performing Arts Inc. and the India School of Dance, Music and Theatre Inc. respectively.
The Manila Great Wall Performing Arts Inc. is an independent non-profit amateur cultural performance organization consists of local Chinese immigrants, Chinese-Canadian citizens and student volunteers who share a common interest in the Chinese performing arts and are dedicated to the growth of the community.
And the India School of Dance, Music and Theatre Inc, since its establishment in 1980, with a mandate to promote the East Indian’s visual and classical performing arts of India in Manitoba and in 1983, the institution was incorporated in 1986. From the small beginning of 25 students, the school is now the house of over 150 students and teachers providing instructions in Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Hindustani music vocals, Carnatic music, Harmonium, Flute, Sitar and Tabla. The school also directs its efforts toward organizing dance and music performances along with the workshops by eminent visiting artists.

The achievements of the school have been recognized at the local, provincial and national levels. In 1987, the school received “Prix Manitoba Award” for the outstanding achievements in multiculturalism. Performance opportunities have taken the students around Canada and the United States.And as the glorious past, India School students performed for the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and for Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Photos by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal