11th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards: Grey’s Anatomy actor, food chain entrepreneur and poet laureate are among this year’s winners

posted on June 28, 2019

By Globe News Wire |

Announcing the RBC Top 25, Entrepreneur Award, Youth Award and Settlement Agency Award Winners

Giacomo Gianniotti, actor on the hit show Grey’s Anatomy; Rola Dagher, President of Cisco Canada; Wali Shah, best-selling author and poet laureate, have been named among the 11th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners, along with community leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who will be recognized at the awards ceremony. Presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine and sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, this is the 11th anniversary of the only national awards program that celebrates the inspiring achievements of Canadian immigrants.

From coast to coast, the 2019 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards are a reflection of Canada’s diversity and nation-building spirit. For the last 11 years, the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards have highlighted stories of Canadian immigrants who have demonstrated incredible contributions and achievements, and, with the inclusion of this year’s 25 winners, a total of 275 winners have been honoured.

“What an amazing year for the awards and Canada! We’ve had a record number of votes cast this year totalling over 65,000 — which is a true testament to the important contributions immigrants make to this great nation of ours,” says Sanjay Agnihotri, Director Canadian Immigrant magazine.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will be honoured at ceremonies in Toronto today, and in Vancouver on July 4. The program is proudly supported by title sponsor Royal Bank of Canada. In addition, of the Top 25 winners, two have been selected for special recognition, the Entrepreneur Award and the Youth Award.

Sam Mod, is the fifth annual recipient of the RBC Entrepreneur Award which recognizes excellence in entrepreneurship. From Victoria, B.C.; Sam is the co-founder and CEO of award-winning design and development company, FreshWorks Studio.

Krittika D’Silva, is the third annual RBC Youth Award winner. From Surrey, B.C.; she is currently a Computer Science PhD student and Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, U.K.

Settlement Agency Award
The Settlement Agency Award was introduced in 2018 to recognize the amazing work immigrant settlement agencies are doing to help newcomers integrate and succeed in Canada. This year too, we invited nominations from across the country and the nominated agencies were posted for an online voting process. After the votes were tabulated, one agency has been selected as the Settlement Agency Award winner for 2019. The winner is Brampton Multicultural Community Centre. Read more about the winner on the Canadian Immigrant website.

“For 150 years, RBC has been committed to helping newcomers in Canada, not only through the products and services we offer, but also with our community partnerships and programs,” says Ivy Chiu, Senior Director, Newcomer Segment, RBC. “The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards are a shining example of this commitment and RBC is proud to recognize these outstanding immigrants who contributed to making Canada the success it is today and will continue to be in the future. We look forward to another 150 years of supporting and celebrating immigrants. Congratulations to all winners and nominees.”

Thousands of nominations were received, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a diverse judging panel of past winners. The 25 winners were chosen based on a combination of nationwide online voting and a second round of judging.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a $500 donation will be made toward a registered Canadian charity of their choice. Winners will also be featured online at and in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant magazine. The awards program is supported by the Toronto Star, Metro, Omni, City TV, and Sing Tao.

The RBC Top 25
The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2019 are listed in alphabetical order below and include current city residence and home country in parentheses. Full biographies are available on the Canadian Immigrant website.

The RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners of 2019:

Dr. Mohd Jamal Alsharif (Ottawa, ON/Jordan) is President, Humans for Peace Institution. Active in the community, he helps immigrants integrate. He has spearheaded many initiatives in Canada and volunteers his experience overseas as a Maxillofacial surgeon to perform surgeries for children.

Javier Badillo (Vancouver, B.C./Venezuela) is a film director, musician and youth mentor who has showcased his human-centred films globally and uses music to tell stories. He has volunteered with Vancouver short film festival and was nominated for Latincouver’s Inspirational Latin Award for Arts and Culture.

Selwyn Collaco (Toronto, ON/India) is currently Chief Data Officer with the Toronto Stock Exchange and has had close to twenty years of leadership experience including in the banking sector. He puts in a lot of time serving the community and is recipient of the Canada 150 Sesquicentennial award for his volunteer work.

Krittika D’Silva (Surrey, B.C./India) is a computer science PhD student and Gates scholar who has designed and built technology over the past decade to support people globally. Her experiences have motivated her to pursue a career at the intersection of technology and public policy.

Rola Dagher (Toronto, ON/Lebanon) is the President of Cisco, Canada. A seasoned professional and a highly-respected sales leader with a “can do” attitude, she brings a strong emphasis on diversity and has made it her mission to empower and nurture employees regardless of gender, culture, orientation or age.

Monika Deol (Vancouver, B.C./India) is a well-known television personality and a successful entrepreneur who recently launched her own beauty line, STELLAR with Sephora. The makeup line is formulated to be high performance, and is a hundred per cent cruelty-free, gluten-free and mostly vegan.

Tulsi Dharel (Toronto, ON/Nepal) is professor of Marketing at Centennial College and has worked as a consultant, business entrepreneur, mentor, community activist and public speaker. He has been involved in organizing many cultural festivals and has founded many cultural and community service associations.

Rouba Fattal (Ottawa, ON/Syria) is a full-time public servant, part-time professor at the University of Ottawa and Carleton, author of several children’s books, founder of Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network, a devoted wife and mother, and the recipient of several awards for her volunteer work in the community.

Ali Ghorbani (Fredericton, NB/Iran) is professor of Computer Science, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity and director of the Canadian Institute of Cybersecurity which he established at UNB. He has received several awards including the 2017 Startup Canada Senior Entrepreneur Award.

Giacomo Gianniotti (Toronto, ON & Los Angeles, CA/Italy) is an actor better known as Dr. Andrew DeLuca on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. His acting credits include the Jesse Owens Biopic Race, and television series Reign. He has co-founded a production company and is starting to make his name as a director.

Devesh Gupta (Mississauga, ON/India) is principal lawyer and owner at Prudent Law, specializing in residential and commercial real estate, corporate law and civil litigation. In the community, he shares his expertise with many organizations and provides community legal updates through weekly radio shows.

Devina Kaur (Montreal, QC/India) is the founder of Sexy Brilliant Global Revolution and author, filmmaker, entrepreneur and Hollywood TV personality. She developed the Sexy Brilliant ideology based on her own personal experiences and shares the message of self-love, empowerment and confidence globally.

Nizar Ladak (Toronto, ON/Uganda) is President and CEO of Compute Ontario and leads a team that brings together scientific, technical and policy-making communities using big data and enabling access to advanced research computing in Ontario for the prosperity of all Canadians.

Phillip Lee (Winnipeg, MB/Hong Kong) is former Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and has a distinguished record of leadership within Winnipeg’s Chinese-Canadian community, having served as an advocate and a bridge-builder. He has received various accolades including being inducted into the Order of Canada.

Marquis Lung (Vancouver, B.C./China) is a youth counsellor and kung fu teacher. He has worked with youth in settings ranging from a community centre to an immigrant-serving agency. He volunteers his time as a radio show host and speaks in the community about different topics including culture, family and youth.

Iqbal Malek (Toronto, ON/India) is CEO of Iqbal Halal Foods. Since he came to Canada with $7 in his pocket he has worked in roles including newspaper boy, dishwasher, factory labourer, chocolate maker and entrepreneur. Malek and his company sponsor many non-profit organizations and community programs.

Sam Mod (Victoria, B.C./India) is co-founder and CEO of FreshWorks Studio, a full life cycle, design and development company. A successful entrepreneur who has received several awards, he takes pride in projects with a social impact and has developed technology to address social issues.

Brenda Okorogba (Winnipeg, MB/Nigeria) is an award-winning youth education and engagement specialist, scholarship search strategist, grant writer and a community builder. She works to foster, inspire and create opportunities for youth and support initiatives focused on tackling systemic inequalities globally.

Maryam Sadeghi (Vancouver, B.C./Iran) is CEO, MetaOptima Technology, which she co-founded to develop technology to aid better diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer and other diseases. She has been recognized including being credited as one of B.C.’s most influential women in BC Business Magazine.

Gelaine Santiago (Toronto, ON/Philippines) is co-founder of Cambio & Co., an ethical fashion company fostering appreciation for Filipino culture and heritage among the younger generation while creating a sustainable livelihood for Filipino artisans. She is very active in the non-profit and social enterprise arena.

Wali Shah (Toronto, ON/Pakistan) is a spoken word poet who uses his poetry to spark honest conversations with youth and raise awareness of issues such as diversity and inclusion, bullying and mental health. He has collaborated with campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk and raised funds for various causes.

Kimberlee Shelley-Ajibolade (Oakville, ON/Jamaica) is an author, community activist and HR professional who is determined to break down stereotypes and be a role model in the community. She has received awards including the Women on Fire Community Activist and Brampton Top 40 Under 40.

Jane Shin (Vancouver, B.C./South Korea) is Associate Vice President, Student Success, Vancouver Community College. She is the first Canadian of Korean descent to be elected to a provincial Legislative Assembly, volunteers on non-profit boards and is a passionate advocate for representation, equity and social justice.

Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies (Calmar, AB/Vietnam) is the founder of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation, a charity supporting impoverished children in Vietnam. A physician, author, mother and advocate for social justice through education, she is an active volunteer and a key voice in her community and internationally.

Samra Zafar (Mississauga, ON/Pakistan) is the founder of Brave Beginnings, a non-profit dedicated to helping abuse survivors having herself experienced abuse as a child bride. She is a speaker, author, scholar and social entrepreneur advocating for equity, inclusion, human rights, youth and life after trauma.

About Canadian Immigrant
Attracting more than 400,000 readers each month and over 100,000 visitors a month online, Canadian Immigrant is a national multimedia platform to help immigrants succeed in Canada, with content, resources and events on careers, education and settlement. Canadian Immigrant is the producer of the cross-country Career, Education and Settlement Immigrant Fairs. Canadian Immigrant is a division of Metroland Media Group, a dynamic media company with more than 100 community and daily newspapers in print and online, as well as innovative websites including,, and

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 80,000 employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 35 other countries. For more information, please visit

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For more information, contact:

Canadian Immigrant
Laura Jackman, 905-273-8160,

Cory Fisher, 647-339-9521,

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