The Annual Muslim Appreciation Dinner
History & Purpose
The Annual Appreciation Dinner is arranged and hosted by Islamic Foundation of Toronto and is a collective effort of the Greater Toronto Area’s Muslim community. We can say with confidence that this event has the support of the vast majority of Muslims and other communities in Toronto. Every year, more than 800 men and women of different religions are in attendance, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Toronto’s diverse Muslim community is regarded as the largest and most thriving illustration of Muslim pluralism and multiculturalism anywhere in the world. You have to experience this to believe it!
From its inception, this event has been a celebration of our diverse cultural mosaic, our shared values, and a commemoration of the hopes we place in our common citizenship. During this event, awards are presented to the city’s top Police Officer, Fire Fighter and Emergency Service Officer, all nominated and selected by their own departments. Over the past 6 years, we have given awards to outstanding journalists such as Mr. Peter Mansbridge and Mr. Nazim Baksh from the CBC, and Mr. Haroon Siddiqui and Ms. Michelle Shephard from the Toronto Star.
In 2009, our theme was education and Awards of Excellence in Education were presented to Ms. Heather Gibson, Ontario’s first Deaf Bilingual Principal, who had 25 years of teaching experience, and Allison Cameron from Saskatchewan, who has a passion for physical education and activity. Shaykh Abdullah Idris Ali, one of the pioneers of establishing Islamic schools in the West, and the Islamic Foundation School, which has reached great heights in spite having a short history, also received education awards. Other noteworthy award recipients include the David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, Young Muslims, and CAIR Canada.
Last year’s event theme was Social Work, and as such we recognized excellence in this field. On behalf of the community, we presented 7 special awards to outstanding individuals and organizations for their lifelong and ongoing contributions in the social work field.
The keynote speaker of the night was the Premier of Ontario, Honorable Dalton McGuinty. In his keynote address, he thanked the Muslim community for their ongoing contributions in the province of Ontario. He stated “I thank you for your tremendous contributions, which makes us all very proud. I also thank you for making Ontario as your home”.
The Premier presented the prestigious “Life Time Achievement Award” to the late Major Muhammed Abbas Ali. Other award recipients were: GlobalMedic and International Development and Relief Foundation (International Category), Terry Fox Foundation and ICNA Relief Canada (National Category) and Nafees Khan and Majied Ali (Local Category). The top Police Officer award went to Mr. Arlington Christopher Blackman, Top Firefighter to Ms. Samantha Hoffman and Top EMS officer to Mr. Donald Reid. A special award was presented to Chief Armand La Barge – York Region Police honouring his career and services. He is retiring in December 2010. The other special award was given to Abdul Majeed Husain for overcoming all the challenges and memorizing the entire Quran.
Many Provincial Ministers, along with local MPs and MPPs, GTA mayors and Councillors for Toronto and other regions were in attendance in addition to police, EMS and fire Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs, Executive Officers of Toronto hospitals, as well as faith and youth leaders. Many other dignitaries from across Canada also were in attendance.