CEMA Awards Gala 2008 and 30th Anniversary bash: a resounding success

January 26, 2015

Early the next morning, CEMA vice-president Ace Alvarez received this gratifying e-mail from Cora de la Cruz, Director Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Toronto: “Thank you … for inviting me. It’s a great event to celebrate it together with so wonderful, hardworking and dedicated people and listening to their accomplishments and visions.  It’s so inspiring!”

An honoured guest this year was Minister of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, bringing greetings from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Kenney made awards to recipients in the Radio category (see below for complete listings of winners).

Kenney reminded the audience that multiculturalism owed its roots to Senator Paul Yucyk and a group of Ukrainian-Canadians who in the mid-sixties deplored the Soviet suppression of the Ukrainian language and culture in their homeland and sought to have it preserved in Canada.

The show began with hosts Pay Chen of OMNI-TV and Dwight Drummond of CITY-TV reading a message of greeting from Governor General Michaelle Jean, followed by CEMA President Ben Viccari’s introduction and a recorded greeting  by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. 

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Sierhey Khmara Ziniak Award to Dat Ngyuen, publisher/editor of the Vietnamese-language weekly Thoi Bao, also cited by CEMA chair Madeline Ziniak for his extraordinary initiative in organizing a successful protest to dispute and remove punitive Ontario taxation of publications (many of them ethnic publications) wrongly labelled as magazines. 

Another highlight of the evening was the outgoing speech by Multicultural media veteran, OMNI commentator, avid blogger and communications specialist, CEMA President Ben Viccari. He reminded the ethnic media that they were the guardian of this cherished policy that has made Canada jewel in world affairs. (Click here to read his speech.)

Awards were puncuated by entertainment from Noiuvel Exposé African dancers to Baba Deep Singh  martial arts group who performed amazing feats of dexterity with poles and swords. From Welsh National Opera came Lyric tenor Gwyndaf Jones and from Gimli Manitoba Icelandic-Canadian folk singer Lindy Vopnfjord. Philippine – Canadian standup comic Ryan Maglunob gave a new face to ethnic comedy and troubador Premek Kruta sang in three of the 24 languages he has mastered. 

The gala was taped for television by Rogers OMNI Television to be aired on Sunday, July 20, over OMNI 1 from 9 pm to 11 p.m. and on Friday, July 25, on OMNI 2 from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.



News or feature

Margaret Jetelina, Editor, The Canadian Immigrant for “Cultural Compromise,” an affecting article on the work of Vancouver’s  Godwin Eni , physician, educator and community leader.


Naeem “Nick” Noorani, publisher, The Canadian Immigrant for his critical editorial “Canada’s Transition Penalty” on underemployment of immigrant professionals.



Martin Silva, broadcaster, for presentation on the successful result  of liver transplant from Dina Lomoro to Jorge Galego on CHIN radiothon for Toronto Western hospital.


Ernest Tannis, ADR program, CHIN Radio, Ottawa for a sensitive program featuring an imam, a minister and a rabbi and their views on the patriarch Abraham.


News or feature

Grace Fusillo-Lombardi, producer, writer and director of Fuel Productions’ moving documentary, “The Great Communicator – Johnny Lombardi ,” funded and broadcast by OMNI-TV


Angie Seth, anchor/reporter,  OMNI-TV South Asian News for the lively “Democracy 101” on how students are encouraged to express political opinions prior to adulthood.


News or feature

Andrew Miller, editor, Blunt Magazine, for “Death” a revealing  description of life as a hospital service assistant with pride in his work


Suresh Jaura, publisher, South Asian Outlook for his incisive editorial “Two Kinds of Canadians” on systemic prejudices against non-whites.

The Sierhey Khmara Ziniak Award was presented to Dat Ngyuen publisher and editor ofVietnamese weekly Thoi Bao for “journalistic excellence in publishing his weekly newspaper and his integral initiative in rescuing Ontario print media from punitive taxation.”

The Performers:

Nouvel Exposé Dance Troupe is a Toronto-based company specializing in traditional contemporary dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo and Egypt. Their mission is to expose new audiences to vibrant African dance styles too long unknown and unappreciated. 

Lindy Vopnfjord. Lindy made his public premiere at the age of four at the Icelandic Festival in his hometown, Gimli Manitoba. Since then, his reputation as grown throughout Canada for his  soaring vocals, crowd-pleasing banter and dazzling guitar playing which have led him to a recording on the Aquarius label.

Premek Kruta. Soon after the Czech-born Premek arrived in Canada he was recognized by CBC’s Ivan Romanoff with appearances on Rhapsody Original.  With his guitar, this romantic troubadour sings in 24 languages and has appeared at concerts across Canada as well as being a featured performer on ocean cruises.  

Ryan Maglunob. Kingston, Ontario-born comic Ryan Maglunob has been performing since his first part in a Grade 2 play. He dropped out of a  computer training course  to pursue his life’s dream and is a graduate of the Humber School of Comedy, class ‘06. He is a regular guest on the Ben Mercer Show on CFRB and can also be heard on Laugh Attack and the Ben Miner show.

Gwyndaf Jones. Born in North Wales, Gwyndaf was trained by his mother, Elizabeth Jones and the late bass baritone Frank Daniels. He has performed as lead tenor for the Welsh National Opera Company,  and with the English National Opera Company and the San Francisco Opera Company. In Canada he sings with Opera Bel Canto of Armenia

Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara is a martial arts school which trains individuals in the Sikh martial arts discipline of Gatka. This performance is one of the many that Gatka Akhara students and graduates give at community events to encourage participation.