In a country like Canada, which attracts so many immigrants, it’s interesting to see how new communities develop and grow. In the years after the Second World War, Toronto attracted many Italian and Portuguese workers. In recent years, Asian and South Asian immigrants have predominated. In the last fifteen-twenty years, Toronto has also become home to many Polish and Russian families.
Last night, I attended an event organized by the Russian community to celebrate the achievements of its business people and entrepreneurs in Canada. It was an elegant gala at a suburban banquet hall that attracted several political dignitaries and also Alex Shneider, the Russian-Canadian billionaire who heads the Midland group of companies (Midland Resources Holding Ltd.).
Immigrants arrive in a country, work in small groups, gradually establish themselves and go on to form larger and more influential organizations. Meanwhile, immigrants in groups that preceded them become integrated into the larger society and the younger generation moves forward in the context of a new cultural dynamic. It’s the wheel of immigration. Canada owes much to it.
Immigrant groups do well when they get together and share their accomplishments with the local community. It sets the tone for greater prosperity but also sends out a very positive message of conciliation and cultural enrichment that also benefits the host country.
Last night's award recipients were very interesting people.
Madeline Ziniak, who has been instrumental in the development of ethnic media in Canada, received a lifetime achievement award from the Russian Canadian Business Association. She’s the national vice president of OMNI Television, Canada’s first and most important multilingual television system.
Rabbi Yoseph Y. Zaltzman, who founded the Jewish Russian Community Centre of Toronto, received the award for leadership and commitment. The Centre runs a number of programs to facilitate the integration of Russian immigrants in the Toronto Jewish community.
There were many other others, including a talented friend, Valery Tokmakov, who was recognized in absentia for his many activities in the community.
(My thanks to BSK for the silhouette illustration.)