CTCC President 25th Gala Speech
Honoured Chief Guest, The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, other distinguished guests, my fellow members of the board, ladies and gentlemen; I extend a warm welcome to each of you who has come here today to celebrate the Silver Jubilee event of the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce. It’s an honor to be here as President, on the special occasion of the Chamber’s Silver Jubilee celebration.
The Chamber’s story began in 1991 with 10 men in a basement room, a budget of $5000 dollars, and a great deal of vision. Here we are, 25 years later, in the prestigious Metro Toronto Convention Center, with over one thousand members and guests, and a budget of 700 000 dollars.
On behalf of the board and myself, let me begin by expressing our gratitude to the Founding members of CTCC. These 10 men were visionaries within the Tamil Community. They recognized the need for a Chamber of Commerce and the importance of fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in our community.
Since then, there have been many presidents who have demonstrated leadership and directed the Chamber with dignity and success. They often took bold steps to steer the organization’s development and growth. We are proud to recognize them for their hard work.
As the current president, I want to thank the board members for the unwavering support they gave during my tenure. Over the course of my tenure, we have worked together to make important changes to the Chamber. There were three important changes this year.
Past year, the Chamber began organizing business events every month. At times, planning monthly events seemed too much work for everyone, but I’m pleased to say that – despite the challenges – our efforts have been entirely successful. Such events have increased the chamber’s presence and reputation and, ultimately, they have only helped bring the community together.
Second, we had the pleasure of organizing CTCC’s first annual Women’s Day at the Hilton Hotel. The event celebrated the accomplishments of successful Tamil women, highlighting their contributions and recognizing the ways they have dynamically changed the face of business.
Finally, we had our first networking event with the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The event was extremely successful. It allowed us to network with the broader South Asian community in Canada for the first time in the Chamber’s history.
The Chambers success, however, is ultimately due to the support and encouragement of its general members and their families. They have brought both energy and rigor to the organization. By attending general meetings and monthly events, they have made the Chamber a widely respected part of Ontario’s business community. They’ve provided jobs and helped various sectors of the economy to grow.
The participation of leading banks, insurance companies, and other major corporations at tonight’s event gives testimony to the Chamber’s influence and contribution to Canada’s largest business community.
The participation of our general members has helped us raise the Chamber’s image among other communities in Canada. We consider this an affirmation of the Tamil community’s place within the national mosaic of Canada.
Of course, our members are not the only ones who have helped shape this organization. Their ability to participate in the workforce and in our organization has been due to the hard work of many women. The work which the women do for their families such as taking care of children and in-laws are not given enough appreciation.
For these reasons and much more, we would like to extend a big “Thank You” to all our members, but also to their families. You have truly been the backbone of its growth. Future generations will no doubt thank us for the creation of this organization, and for its growth and success.
Tonight’s function is an opportunity to recognize the achievements of members of our community who have climbed the ladder of success in their chosen fields. Some of them were uprooted from Sri Lanka and forced to overcome various struggles in their transition to Canada. But through the bonds of community and hard work, they made important contributions to Canadian business and commerce.
The CTCC Board offers its congratulations to the recipients of tonight’s awards. We wish them the very best for their careers in the future.
The founders who built the Chamber took a small step, but it became a giant leap for our community. The journey that began 25 years ago does NOT end tonight. There is still much more to do.
We must certainly harness the potential of business to fulfill our dream of a vibrant Tamil community in Canada. But we should also seize the opportunity to invest and develop trade in Sri Lanka.
Despite the increase in the global average income, millions of people are still condemned to discrimination, violence, ill health, illiteracy, and lifelong severe poverty.
If commerce and business can improve people’s quality of life, then we must ask why the opportunity for such improvement must remain only within our borders.
Our members should consider creating trade and investment links, especially in the Northern provinces which were badly affected by the war. They should study the different fields of business in which they could participate. The Tamil Diaspora has an important role to play in improving the quality of life for people back home.
I have full confidence that they will rise to the occasion and achieve large-scale success.
Thank you to every person in this room for coming here to celebrate CTCC’s story.
In closing, I wish to echo the words of one of our founding members. As the Late, Mr. Jeganathan urged, “Please keep this flame alive.” I would add, “Please pass it on to the next generation.”
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