Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the 12th edition of the Era 21 Networking Breakfast for Young Canadians.
As this year’s patron, I would like to begin by thanking all of you for being here early in the morning. I am particularly delighted to see so many young faces here among us today, and others that are not so young - but hopefully still young at heart.
While some of you may know who I am, others may not. So let me briefly introduce myself: I immigrated to Canada from Singapore in 1978, and settled with my family in Mississauga, Ontario. If you told me growing up that I would become a Canadian senator, I wouldn’t have believed it. My life was focused on building a successful property development business. But here I am today. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a proud member of the Senate of Canada since January 2013. Life really does take you places that you never thought you would go.
When I arrived in this country, I was overwhelmed by the warm reception of my neighbours. Through the guidance and generosity of my community, especially former Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, I learned the importance of giving back. I became involved in a number of non-profit organizations such as Safe City Mississauga, which has made our city a safer place to live and raise a family.
My focus has always been helping newcomers establish themselves and start their own businesses. One of the most rewarding experiences for me has been helping families build a better future. As a result of these experiences, I strongly believe that we can all have a meaningful and concrete impact in our communities.
The purpose of today’s event is to provide students with an opportunity to network with parliamentarians, community leaders and their peers. We have assembled a talented panel of speakers that represent Canada’s cultural diversity. They will be speaking on a wide range of topics that include overcoming adversity and giving back to others. I am confident that these exchanges will have a positive influence on all those in attendance.
To all the students here: It is my sincere hope that you will leave today feeling inspired. There’s a world of opportunities ahead of you. Nothing is impossible if you work hard and stay humble.
You should never be afraid to reach out to those who inspire you. I hope that all of you will be able to find a mentor that allows you to fulfill your potential, as I did when I first came to Canada.
I encourage you to use all the means available to get in touch with those who make a difference in your community. To that end, I wanted to mention that the Senate is now on Twitter and Instagram. Please share your experiences using the hashtag SenCA. Our Senate Communications team will also be taking photos and asking for comments to publish a story about the event on the SenCAPlus website in the weeks to come.
To all the other guests: Thank you for being here today and sharing your stories and advice with the students. Not only are you providing these young people with a chance to meet role models who can inspire them, but I’m sure you’re also getting the chance to meet the future leaders of our great country.
Finally, I would like give special thanks to the sponsor of today’s event – the Royal Bank of Canada. Let’s welcome to the stage George Wamala to say a few word on behalf of RBC.