The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) celebrated its 10th biennial awards of excellence gala dinner at the Delta Marriott Hotel in Winnipeg on September 27 this year.
Among the honourees at the event were recipients of 14 Community Champion Special Awards.
One of the awardees was retired doctor and federal politician Rey Pagtakhan, who is the only Canadian Filipino elected so far to the House of Commons.
“I am honoured and humbled, indeed,” Dr. Pagtakhan said in a statement.
According to the award, Pagtakhan is being recognized for his “outstanding achievement in promoting harmonious race relations in Canada”.
The citation reads: “A retired physician, professor and parliamentarian, Dr. Pagtakhan is the only Filipino-born Canadian ever elected to Parliament and to serve as Cabinet Minister. His accomplishments in medicine, politics and community advocacy reflect his deep sense of others and Canada’s success at inclusion and integration. Community causes he helped championed include re-admission of two deportees, fair quasi-judicial tribunal decisions, compensation for aboriginal veterans and HIV-infected hemophiliac patients, infrastructure funding for cultural-community centers and the Seven-Oaks Wellness Institute, accreditation of foreign-obtained credentials, and designation of Winnipeg as site for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. He has been inducted to the Order of Manitoba (2017) and had earlier received the first Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba Award of Recognition and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilee Medals. He currently serves on the Advisory Council of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.”
The CRRF was created through the federal government’s Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act, which became law in 1996.
Based in Toronto, the foundation operates at arm's length from the federal government. The foundation is a registered charity.
The CRRF is mandated to facilitate the development, sharing and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canada.
The foundation was promised by the government when it signed in 1988 the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement with the National Association of Japanese Canadians.
Pagtakhan was first elected in 1988. He served as a Member of Parliament until 2004.
“All of the individuals and organizations honoured at our Gala Dinner event on September 27th represent excellence in building harmonious race relations and deliver a positive and tangible impact on improving the living, working, educational, social, or economic environments of all peoples across Canada’s multicultural communities,” said Albert Lo, who is board chair of the CRRF.
CRRF executive director Dr. Lilian Ma described the event as a “wonderful tribute to the individuals and organizations in Canada who are doing their part to help foster positive race relations in Canada”.
Pagtakhan, for his part, thanked the CRRF for its work to “highlight the importance of cross-cultural understanding and social harmony to our common vision of an inclusive and inspiring Canada”.
In a previous interview with Canadian Filipino Net, Pagtakhan said that he entered politics because he wanted to “make a positive difference in the lives of many more people”.
“By bringing my insights to Parliament and the Government of Canada, I thought that I would serve a greater number of citizens from all walks of life, here and even abroad,” Pagtakhan said.