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Generous Futures: Newcomers Redefining

April 28, 2021
1:00 PM EDT - 2:00 PM EDT
Generous Futures: Newcomers Redefining

How are newcomers to Canada leading the way in philanthropy? How can philanthropy create equity and unify people of different backgrounds? How does philanthropy help newcomers to engage in and strengthen their communities? Join us for a discussion about immigration and philanthropy and its impact on the future of Canada.


Anna Triandafyllidou, Canada Excellence Research Chair, Migration and Integration, Ryerson University

Anna Triandafyllidou, Canada Excellence Research Chair, Migration and Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University


Gina Cody, former Executive Chair & Principal Shareholder, CCI Group Inc.

Gina Cody, Benefactor of the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and co-chair of the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now

Raj Kothari, Former Vice Chair and GTA Managing Partner, PwC Canada and Chair of the Board of Governors, Toronto General Western Hospital Foundation

Raj Kothari, Former Vice Chair and GTA Managing Partner, PwC Canada and Chair of the Board of Governors, Toronto General Western Hospital Foundation

Mohamad Fakih, President and CEO, Paramount Fine Foods

Mohamad Fakih, President and CEO, Paramount Fine Foods


Anna Triandafyllidou is the Canada Excellence Research Chair (opens in new window)  in Migration and Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University where she is building an internationally recognized program to explore the contemporary challenges of migration and integration. Prior to her CERC at Toronto Metropolitan University, Triandafyllidou was based in Florence, Italy, where she held a Robert Schuman Chair at the European University Institute and was director of the Cultural Pluralism research area (external link, opens in new window)  at the EUI’s Global Governance Program. She is the Editor of the Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies (external link, opens in new window) , Chair of the IMISCOE Editorial Committee (external link, opens in new window) , and member of the IMISCOE Board of Directors. She was Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges between 2002 and 2018. Anna’s recent books include: Migrants with Irregular Status in Europe (Springer IMISCOE, with S. Spencer ed., 2020); Handbook of Migration and Globalisation (E. Elgar, ed. 2018); The Problem of Religious Diversity (with T. Modood, ed. Edinburgh University Press, 2018); Multicultural Governance in a Mobile World (ed. Edinburgh University Press, 2018), Global Governance from Regional Perspectives (Oxford University Press, ed., 2017). She is the author of What is Europe? (with R. Gropas, Palgrave, 2015), Migrant Smuggling. Irregular Migration from Asia and Africa to Europe (with T. Maroukis, 2015, Palgrave), and Immigrants and National Identity in Europe (Routledge, 2001). She also coordinates two blogging spaces:  Pandemic Borders (external link, opens in new window)  and Global Extremes (external link, opens in new window) 

Dr. Gina Parvaneh Cody immigrated to Canada from Iran in 1979.

Dr. Cody holds a master’s and a doctorate in building engineering from Concordia University. She was the first woman awarded a PhD in building engineering at Concordia. Dr. Cody has more than 30 years of professional practice in the private sector as a professional engineer, corporate executive and principal shareholder of an engineering firm. Dr. Cody has provided professional engineering services to some of Canada’s largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), financial institutions, builders and developers. 

Dr. Cody served the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) for more than 15 years as a member of the Discipline Committee and eight years as chair of the Professional Practice Committee. Dr. Cody was granted the Certificate of Fellowship and the Award of Honor by PEO. Dr. Cody is also a recipient of the Award of Merit by the Canadian Standards Association. Dr. Cody was awarded the Order of Montreal in 2019 and was named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada in 2020. In December 2020, she was appointed Member of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Cody serves on the board of trustees of the Canadian Apartment Properties REIT and the European Residential REIT.  She is a member of the Board of Governors, the Governance Committee and chair of the Real Estate Planning Committee and Industrial Advisory Council of Concordia University. She is also the co-chair of the Campaign for Concordia, the university’s most ambitious fundraising initiative ever. Dr. Cody has been a Fellow in the Canadian Academy of Engineering since 2019.

In 2018, Dr. Cody made an historic $15 million gift to Concordia University's Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. In honour of her professional accomplishments and her generosity, the faculty was renamed the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. It is the first engineering faculty in Canada, and one of the first internationally, named after a woman.

Dr. Cody lives in Toronto with her husband, a retired banker. The couple have two daughters, one completed her law degree and the other a doctoral degree in engineering.

Raj Kothari was a Partner and Vice Chair of PwC Canada. Raj served as Managing Partner for Greater Toronto at PwC until  December 31, 2017 and was a member of PwC Canada’s Extended Leadership Team until June 30, 2018. He also served  as the National Asset and Wealth Management Leader, Global Transformation Leader for Asset and Wealth Management  Assurance Practice and as founding board member of PwC’s Global Service Delivery Centre in India.  

Raj’s professional and business experience, over 40 years, spans Canada, UK and India in the areas of business operations,  business assurance and advisory services, transaction support, valuation of Asset Management Companies and advisory  services to small and large clients in a variety of businesses. In Canada, he specialized in advising clients in the asset  management and fund industry, specializing in: mutual funds, pooled funds, hedge funds, structured products, venture  capital funds, investment management companies, service providers and special purpose investment vehicles. His  experience also includes banking, insurance, trading and manufacturing businesses.  

Raj graduated from the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at Harvard Business School and obtained an MBA from CASS Business School at the City, University of London. He also qualified as a chartered accountant in both Canada and  the UK. Raj is currently enrolled in the Directors’ Certification Program at Harvard Business School, and will complete  the final two modules on campus in Cambridge, MA. 

Raj currently serves on the board of IMCO (Investment Management Corporation of Ontario), a $70-billion pension plan  in Canada, on the Independent Review Committee (IRC) of Brompton Funds, and as Advisor to a Private Family Office. 

Active within the community, Raj has served as President of the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce, Chaired the  Stratford Shakespeare Festival Endowment Foundation and served on various boards, including Advancing Canadian  Entrepreneurship / Students in Free Enterprise-Canada (ENACTUS), Duke of Edinburgh Awards–Ontario, Harvard  Business School Club Toronto, Pearson College of the Pacific, Artscape, the Stratford Festival and Soulpepper Theatre.  Raj was also a member of the International Advisory Council of the Dean of the Schulich School of Business and a member  of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) President’s Advisory Council. 

Raj has been an active fundraiser and chaired: the Stratford Express, Stratford's single largest fundraising event for three  years; "India, The Living Arts" Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa; “Diwali, A Night To Shine”  from 2012-2014 and 2017-2019 for the University Health Network (UHN); and Soulpepper Theatre’s largest fundraising  event in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Toronto General Western Hospital Foundation, and on the  boards of the Ontario Arts Foundation, and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.  


2012 Raj was awarded The Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to the community, the profession and  industry  

2013 Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce Male Professional of the Year  

2013 Empire Club of Canada Community Service Award  

2017 Transformation Award for Professional Excellence

In 2006, Mohamad Fakih, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, purchased a nearly bankrupt restaurant and transformed it into what is now known as the fastest growing Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain in North America – Paramount Fine Foods. Mohamad’s determination to change perceptions surrounding Middle Eastern food has driven Paramount’s brand success across Canada and Internationally as well as advancing the global Middle Eastern food trend.

A community leader, Mr. Fakih regularly participates in fundraisers and community events, supporting multiple causes and organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, Islamic Relief worldwide, Sick Kids Hospital, the Make a Wish Foundation in Toronto and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Canada. Both Paramount and Mohamad have donated generously to these charities and other non-profit organizations. Across his restaurants Mohamad offers discounts to all Emergency Service Workers in uniform to show appreciation for their service in our communities.

In past years, after the Canadian government decided to welcome 25,000 Syrian Refugees, Mr. Fakih made headlines in Canadian news when he travelled to Lebanon to visit the Islamic Relief Camps for Syrian Refugees to gain a deeper understanding of current relief efforts. Hoping to lead by example, Mohamad partnered with Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto for the Lifeline Syrian Challenge – allowing Paramount Fine Foods to fund employment support counsel to help recruit new Syrian Canadians during their job search.

Mohamad opened the doors of Paramount restaurants to the skills and drive many refugees bring to Canada by providing up to 150 jobs for the newcomers in his restaurants in 2017.

Mr. Fakih’s determination to uphold values of giving back to communities where Paramount restaurants are located has resulted in a workplace culture of giving to others and to supporting one another. He has made philanthropy and giving back a key part of Paramount’s culture and identity, setting it apart from other restaurants and businesses globally.

Mr. Fakih has been featured in several leading media outlets across Canada including CBC and CP24 Television, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Newstalk 1010, National Post and many more.

In February 2017, Mr. Fakih was acknowledged before the Canadian Parliament by the Prime Minister of Canada – Justin Trudeau - as an Exemplary Canadian Citizen and Businessman who successfully operated a Middle Eastern restaurant chain, and was applauded for his charitable work in January 2017 when he covered the funeral costs of six victims of a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. In his business affairs and community work, Mr. Fakih is viewed as a Canadian of Lebanese birth who brings together people of all origins in a global workplace, advancing our communities and helping each other to contribute to our societies. The Prime Minister of Canada, as well as the Premier of Ontario, and several Mayors have all visited Paramount Restaurants in Ontario.

Along with being named a finalist in the 2014 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Mr. Fakih made the cover of Canadian Immigrant Magazine for both his business success and inspiring life story. In addition, The Globe and Mail titled Mr. Fakih one of Toronto’s “16 to watch in 2016”. The list, released in January included other notable Canadians such as John Tory, Mayor of Toronto and Alessia Cara (International Artist). Toronto Life Magazine named Mr. Fakih as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in 2017, 2019, and 2020 including him in a list of successful politicians, international businessmen, media and tech titans who are changing the world as we know it.

In 2018 Mohamad received an honorary Doctor of Law Degree, from Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto. He also received the prestigious 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment from IRCC- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

In May 2018, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched a new partnership with Mr. Fakih, to support the Agency’s work for refugees globally and in Canada.

UNHCR recognized Mr. Fakih’s vision and commitment to building a Canada that is strengthened by diversity and leads globally on refugee issues, based on his contribution in promoting the economic and social integration of refugees into our communities. He is the voice and the face of UNHCR Canada. 

Mr. Fakih is committed to revamping the traditional image of the Middle Eastern Restaurant industry by changing the way the cuisine is viewed and enjoyed. He believes that his hands-on approach to all aspects of his business ensures the Paramount model will sustain its growth and continue to provide jobs for Canadians including new immigrants, and globally as Paramount expands.

Paramount currently employs over 2000 people across its 71 restaurants and gourmet butcher shops globally with 42 in Canada and 12 International locations, plus food factories and its Toronto international corporate head office. Paramount continues to be proud to bring Halal Foods to the world after being the first halal restaurant to open at Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Mr. Fakih is a strategic and successful business leader who employs his skills, expertise and experience into expanding Paramount’s brand to pioneer the halal market globally. He believes this can only be achieved by sharing his vision, knowledge and expertise with his management teams and franchisees in every country where he opens locations. Mr. Fakih aims to continue the swift growth of Paramount globally while continuing to promote excellent standards of food quality and service in Middle Eastern restaurants and to share the cuisine with diverse audiences.

In 2019, after a long battle of legal actions against hate crime, hate speech and Islamophobia, the Ontario Supreme Court awarded Mr. Fakih $2.5 million dollars in damages for defamation against Kevin J. Johnston. Mr. Fakih continues to support communities who face hate crime and hate speech. He donated all the collected money to an anti-hate fund. This legal battle not only creates precedent, it is also the largest defamation award in Canada.

In the last 5 years, Mr. Fakih has received numerous awards for his business excellence and for his charitable works including a few mentioned below:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year – Food and Beverage Finalist 2013 to 2014 - Ernst & Young, Ontario, Canada
  • Readers’ Choice Community Gold Award 2013 and 2014 - Hamilton, Ontario newspapers
  • Top Meat Shop 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 - Top Choice Media Awards in Toronto, Ontario
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant and Top Butcher Shop in Mississauga, Ontario -
  • Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 – MAX Gala – Muslim Awards for Business
  • Excellence in Ontario, Canada
  • Business Person of the Year 2016 - Business Excellence Award - Toronto Board of Trade
  • Regional Company of the Year 2016 - Pinnacle Awards - Kostuch Restaurant and Food Industry Media Canada
  • Excellence in Community Engagement 2016 - Pioneers of Change Awards/ Skills for Change - Toronto
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in Ontario, Canada 2016 - Toronto Life Magazine
  • United Way Recognition of Support Award 2016 - Peel Regional Police in Ontario, Canada
  • Top Choice Award for Paramount Restaurants and Butcher Shop in Ontario, Canada-2017 – Top Choice Media
  • Consumers Choice Award - Best Mediterranean Restaurant in the Greater Toronto Area - 2017
  • Business Person of the Year 2017 – Brampton, Ontario – Board of Trade
  • Sawa Business Excellence Award – Year 2017 - Sawa International Group Gala - Quebec, Canada for International Relief Organization Awards
  • Restaurants Canada - Leadership Award 2017 - Organization for Excellence in Canadian Restaurants.
  • Royal Bank of Canada - Top 25 Immigrant Award 2017
  • Toronto Life Magazine - Top 50 Most Influential People Awards - 2016, 2017 and 2019
  • Doctor of Law, Honorary Doctorate Degree - Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, 2018 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment – from IRCC: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency in Canada – 2018 - New partnership with Dr. Fakih, President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods and Founder of the Fakih Foundation
  • Recipient of the Senate 150 Medal 2018 – Given to individuals across Canada who has been nominated by senators to mark the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate
  • University of West Indies, Raymond Chang Award 2019 – Given to individuals who exemplify leadership and philanthropy in commitment to betterment of communities in Canada. 
  • VOSCARS, Hazel McCallion Power of Giving Award, 2019 – Given to individuals with generosity and determination who has made a variety of contributions to the community.
  • Ontario Supreme Court – Dr. Fakih awarded $2.5 million dollars against Kevin J. Johnston in defamation court case
  • Business Person of the Year Award, 2019 – Won the prestigious Business Award of Excellence 2019, by the Mississauga Board of Trade.
  • Key to the City of Mississauga, 2019 - Awarded the key to the city of Mississauga by Mayor Bonnie Crombie, bestowed upon esteemed community members, former residents and visitors whom the Mayor wishes to honour. 
  • Canada’s Most Admired CEO 2019, Mid market category – Recognized as a national winner for fostering high performance corporate cultures that help sustain a competitive advantage. 
  • Member of National Speakers Bureau
Generous Futures: Power and Politics in Charitable Giving

Through a series of panel discussions we will explore the struggles, politics and possibilities within the charitable sector.

Promotional Partners: Association of Fundraising Professionals; Canadian Association of Gift Planners; Canada Helps; Imagine Canada

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