CEMA elects new board of directors, new president as Ben Viccari steps down

January 26, 2015

The Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) held its Biennial General Meeting on September 11, 2008, welcoming its slate of executive and board members for the following year. It was a historic meeting that saw the departure of CEMA’s long-time President, Ben Viccari, and the new incoming President Ace Alvarez. Chair Madeline Ziniak announced that by the deadline, September 1, there had been no challengers to the slate voted for by the CEMA Board of Directors.

Ben thanked CEMA members for helping him successfully position the organization as the premier ethnic media group in the country and said there was no stopping given all its achievements.  Incoming president Ace said he looked forward to the time ahead.

The slate, which now comprises the new Board of Directors for the period 2008-2010 is as follows, elected by a unanimous vote:


  •  Chair: Madeline Ziniak
  • President: Ace Alvarez
  • Secretary: Doreen Vanini
  • Treasurer: Irene Chu
  • 1st Vice-president: Dat Nguyen
  • 2nd Vice-president Vassil Yancoff

 Board members:

  •  Ben Viccari
  • Elena Zolotko
  • Gina Valle
  • Hyo Kim
  • Jules Elder
  • Kati Rekai
  • Kiumars Rezvanifar
  • Zuhair Kashmeri

Arnim Joop publisher of “The Albertaner”, a German language monthly and an upcoming multicultural English-language monthly and a multiple CEMA award winner, and Nick Noorani, publisher of the English language “The Canadian Immigrant” and a 2008 award winner, became special representatives for Alberta and British Columbia, respectively.

After thanking members for attending and voting, Madeline congratulated new President Ace Alvarez and stated her pride in the organization founded by her father has so successfully reached its 30th anniversary.  She called on past president Ben Viccari to review CEMA’s activities during the past two years.

 Outgoing President Ben Viccari’s speech:

 In reviewing my final two years of office, I have  a great deal to be proud of due to the cooperation and performance of Board members.

 First, I must congratulate your choice of President. In those two years, my work with him stepped up to almost daily contacts and I can assure you that Ace’s are high!

Next, a singular and bold effort by our new 1st vice, Dat Nguyen was made in spearheading along with the Ontario Community Newspapers Association the “Save Our Voice Movement” by showing the provincial government how greatly misunderstood was the nature of ethnic newspapers and how lethal new, punitive legislation would be to the very existence of many. Cabinet ministers were quick to respond and rescind the legislation.

Ace and I were present at the initial meetings, planning the protest, and I am pleased to say that CEMA chose to be featured as a supporter on the Save our Voice web site — incidentally the only ethnic media association to do so.

Almost taken by surprise, we realized last year that CEMA had been in existence for 29 years and it was to Kiu Rezvanifar that we turned for assistance with the 30th celebrations.  There’s a lot on his plate, so I’m going to ask him to speak on this right now. (Kiu outlined his hopes that both the Government of Ontario and the Toronto Community council will hold receptions for CEMA.)

Bill Yancoff continued to organize the Season’s Dinners along with the live and silent auctions and prize draws — an important source of revenue for CEMA. (Bill stated he is working with the Workers’ Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario to organize another meeting and meal of the kind we have held in the past.)

We welcomed back Doreen Vanini, who earlier this year again became our Secretary and we regret the resignation for health reasons of long time member Hasanat Ahmad Syed publisher of New Canada. Kati Rekai, a charter member of CEMA is here with us tonight; she’s still broadcasting regularly on CIAO’s “Hungarian Hour”, as well as publishing her books for children promoting multiculturalism. Hyo Kim and Elena Zolotko — our design specialists continued to make the work we published look good. And Zuhair Kash Kashmeri — our editor and webmaster did us up proud for the world to see what CEMA is doing. Noted author Gina Valle is going to be devoting her talents to recruitment and Jules Elder a veteran board member will continue with his counsel and community contacts.

It is with sadness that we note the passing in June of Valery Tokmakov, producer of the popular “Russian Waves” television program. His wife, Natalia Nikitina is with us tonight and to express  our sincere condolences to her, may I ask for a moment’s silence.

You have also voted this year to welcome two representatives of a growing number of members in Alberta and British Columbia, Arnim Joop publisher/editor of “The Albertaner” and Nick Noorani publisher of “The Canadian Immigrant”. They will be highly valuable to membership expansion into the West and be there to advise us if and when we are ready to establish chapters.  They will attend Board meetings via conference calls, or if in Toronto, in person.

The Speakers’ series continued apace and during the period we introduced speakers like Author Barrie Zwicker with his daring conspiracy theories on September 11, 2001; Diversity-conscious police chief Armand La Barge of York Region; Toronto Star columnist par excellence Joe Fiorito’ and, a team from the Bridgeport Health Centre. Webmaster Kash Kashmeri was kept busy announcing all these events, plus many other news items and articles of interest to members.

We were pleased to honour a non-member, whose work has been of great importance to us:  Bill Andersen, computer wizard, and at this moment enjoying a touring holiday in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.  Thanks, Bill!

I have reserved our distinguished Chair for our final remarks. She is a permanent member of the Board as a reminder of what we owe to our founder: independence and the right to freedom of speech and thought.

Madeline and I worked together with new partner, Ace, to stress the importance of what we owe to Sierhey Khmara Ziniak who created an association that is all-inclusive and operated entirely without financial assistance from government at any level. May we always remind ourselves of this during the next 30 years — and beyond.

Serving you these last nine years has been both a privilege and a great learning experience for me and this is not the end of my desire to serve in any way I can, but this is the moment to hail your new president and to wish him every success in building CEMA to ever more significant  achievements in the future.

Ace, we don’t have a gavel to hand over as a symbol but here from the heart is a sincere handshake.