ON behalf of Governor-General David Johnston, B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon presented the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 24 volunteers, including five South Asians, from this province on Friday at a ceremony at Government House in Victoria.

Created in 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad. Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens.

The South Asian recipients were:

* Amrik Singh Aulakh of Surrey

* Raghbir Singh Bains of Surrey

* Shala Chandani of North Vancouver

* Dr. Kimit Rai of New Westminster

* Gurpiar Singh Romana of Abbotsford


Amrik Singh Aulak: Amrik Aulakh has volunteered with many organizations within his community: the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, Citizens Crime Watch Patrol, as well as traffic safety and speed watch programs. He is also a regular blood donor, and has long assisted new immigrants, seniors, and those on low incomes to submit their income taxes, a crucial point of entry to access social support services.


Raghbir Singh Bains: Since 1990, Dr. Bains has worked tirelessly as a volunteer, community activist and educator to promote intercultural understanding and mutual respect. He has raised funds and mobilized support for the Children’s Hospital of Vancouver, the local United Way, the Surrey-Delta Indo-Canadian Senior’s Centre and Alcoholics Anonymous groups, inter alia. He has also spoken at seminars and conferences in Canada and India on topics such as HIV / AIDS awareness, bullying, racial discrimination and drug abuse.


Shala Chandani: For 20 years, Shala Chandani has helped new immigrants integrate into Canadian society. A woman with a deep sense of social responsibility, she volunteers within the Ismaili community and the community at large. Recently, she was appointed to the National Ismaili Council, where she now coordinates the work of volunteers across Canada.


Kimit Rai: Kimit Rai is the founder of Operation Rainbow Canada, which provides free reconstructive surgery for those with cleft palates in developing countries. Through Operation Rainbow Canada, Dr. Rai has not only helped many children and young adults, he has also offered a learning opportunity for doctors and medical support staff to develop their own surgical skills.


Gurpiar Singh Romana: Since 1983, Gurpiar Romana has been involved with the Dasmesh Punjabi School, which teaches Punjabi and Sikh Studies to children. His long engagement with this initiative is how he puts into action his belief in the importance of respecting and preserving family heritage.