Tuesday 22 May 2012

Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce - Celebrations

Multiple causes for celebration as the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce held its 10th Annual Business Excellence Awards Evening with Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.
BURLINGTON, ONTARIO (4 May 2012) There were multiple causes for celebration as the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Business Excellence Awards Evening on Friday, May 4th at the Burlington Convention Centre. Established to formally recognize leadership, innovation and excellence within the Croatian business community, the event celebrated its 10th anniversary and also commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Canada’s recognition of the independence of the Republic of Croatia. This momentous occasion in the history of the Croatian-Canadian community was further enhanced by the presence of The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada as the Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker. The title sponsors for the event were CIBC and Bell.
Numerous political and diplomatic representatives from Canada and the Republic of Croatia were in attendance. Among them were current and former Canadian politicians of Croatian descent, including Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister of Labour; the Hon. Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification; Eve Adams, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Brampton South; Jeff Watson, Member of Parliament for Essex; his Worship Bob Bratina, Mayor of the City of Hamilton; Janko Perić, former Member of Parliament for Cambridge; and John Šola, former Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East.
The Republic of Croatia was represented by His Excellency Veselko Grubišić, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Canada and Mr. Ljubinko Matešić, Consul General of the Republic of Croatia to Canada in Mississauga. Other honoured guests from the Republic of Croatia included a number of high ranking officers from the Croatian military, who are taking part in exercises in Canada at the Canadian Forces Base Borden School for Foreign Military Personnel and as part of the the National Security Programme at the Canadian Forces War College in Toronto.
Following an introduction by Masters of Ceremonies Ivan Grbešić and Marcella Barić, Prime Minister Harper addressed those in attendance. Having spent his early years in Toronto, he first reminisced about his knowledge of Croats as a fan of the Mahovlich brothers in the National Hockey League and through his residence in the same area of Toronto as Canadian boxing legend George Čuvalo. He then charmed the sold-out crowd of over 700 people with a speech that emphasized the increasing relationship between Canada and the Republic of Croatia.
As the first sitting Canadian government leader to visit the Republic of Croatia, Prime Minister Harper spoke of his “unforgettable” visit to our ancestral homeland in the Spring of 2010 and how touched he was by the warmth of the welcome he received. This was but one component of a growing rapport that included the visit to the Republic of Croatia by the Governor General of Canada, recognition of the Republic of Croatia as an important NATO ally in the mission to Afghanistan, the elimination of short term visas for Croatian nationals visiting Canada, and the signing of a Youth Mobility Agreement to foster exchanges between the two countries.
The Prime Minister praised the energy and entrepreneurship of Croatian Canadians and foresaw their role as facilitators of new business opportunities in a globalized economy. He referenced The Economist’s observations of diaspora business networks in speeding the flow of information across borders, fostering trust and creating connections that help people collaborate.
It was anticipated that these would become important factors in 2013 as the Republic of Croatia becomes the 28th member of the European Union (EU), the world’s largest import economy and Canada’s second largest trading partner. Indeed, the Prime Minister stated the friendship between Canada and the Republic of Croatia is poised to further increase in light of Canada’s negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Trade Agreement with the EU, which would make Canada the only G-8 country with secure access to both the North American and European markets. Upon reiteration of the important role that the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and its cross-cultural networks represent in the global marketplace, the Prime Minister personally thanked “Croatia’s sons and daughters” for their role in Canada’s ongoing growth. He received a standing ovation from all in attendance.
Prior to his departure, Prime Minister Harper handed the first-ever Chamber Scholarship and Bursary Fund awards to recipients Michael Mitar (Medicine, University of Toronto), Kasandra Julia Mrežar (Arts, University of Western Ontario) and Stephanie Paulina Pisačić (Commerce, University of Toronto).
The Business Excellence Awards ceremony began as dinner was being completed. All candidates for awards were nominated through a transparent public process and award recipients were selected based on a vote by a panel comprised of the previous year’s award recipients and members of the Board of Directors of the Chamber. Each award recipient received a limited-edition print by renowned Croatian-Canadian artist Anton Cetin, who recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of his gallery in the city of Čazma, Croatia.
Awards for 2012 were presented to seven recipients in the following categories:
Large Business of the Year – The Herjavec Group (Mr. Robert Herjavec)
The Herjavec Group is one of Canada’s major technology companies and its largest IT security provider. Unfortunately, Robert Herjavec was unable to attend as he was attending the filming of his popular American television show, Shark Tank.
Small Business of the Year – Canadian Star Aluminum (Mr. Ivan Petrović)
A family-run business for over 40 years, Canadian Star Aluminum is one of the largest siding contractors in the Greater Toronto Area and has completed over 50,000 homes since opening shop in the 1970s.
Entrepreneur of the Year – Mr. Frank Beljo (I.T. Mission)
An I.T. services company with strategic partnerships across Canada, I.T. Mission services customers in hundreds of Canadian locations with access to over 500 I.T. professionals at any given time.
Professional of the Year – Mr. Thomas Butković (Intersect Construction)
A civil engineer, Mr. Butković worked in the public and private sector and was involved in numerous commercial projects and municipal redevelopment projects. He is currently Project Manager for the $300 million Ritz luxury condo /hotel project in downtown Toronto.
Professional of the Year – Dr. Tony Ožanić (Ozanic Aesthetic & Family Dentistry)
Dr. Ožanić currently provides affordable, excellent dental care to over 1500 patients. In addition to non-surgical gum therapy and smile makeovers, Dr. Ožanić was one of the first dentists in Canada certified to offer Invisalign orthodontics and has been a preferred provider for the past three years.
Executive of the Year – Mr. Michael Kraljević, Toronto Port Lands Company (TPLC)
As President and CEO of the TPLC, Mr. Kraljević oversees the management and leasing of over 400 acres of property along the lakefront in downtown Toronto. In addition to providing leadership for the redevelopment of the area, he is ensuring that environmental stewardship remains an integral part of the area’s future plans.
Community Achievement Award – Mr. Vladimir Pernar
An active member of Folklore Ensemble Croatia in Mississauga for over 35 years, of which almost 20 years were spent as President and Vice-President, Mr. Pernar has helped preserve Croatian culture through song, dance and community building and touched the lives of generations of Croatian-Canadian youth.
Croatian Canadian Pioneer Award – Ms. Julia Miloknoja
Ms. Miloknoja was born in Lika, Croatia in 1907 and following the death of her mother in the early 1920s, she and her father immigrated to Sudbury, Ontario in 1924 to join her brother Nick Perković, who was a successful local businessman. She devoted her life to her family and at the age of 104 still embodies the spirit, hard work and perseverance of countless immigrants in building the Canadian nation.
The Business Excellence Awards evening has become one of the most anticipated events in the Croatian community calendar and provides a prime networking opportunity for all participants. As many attendees reconnected and shared their own stories, others placed their bids on fabulous prizes available through both silent and live auctions, which included, among others, a stay at Villa Jasmine in Turks and Caicos as well as tickets to attend Croatia’s opening round matches at the Euro 2012 soccer competition to be held in Poland and the Ukraine.
Later in the evening, the Chamber Scholarship and Bursary Fund received a very generous donation in the amount of $36,000 from American Iron & Metal Co. Inc., with a challenge that it would match any additional contributions up to $18,000 from others in attendance at the event. The response to the challenge was overwhelming as $66,000 has been raised in addition to the $54,000 contributed by American Iron & Metal for total proceeds of $120,000. On behalf of Croatian-Canadian students, the Chamber expressed its heartfelt gratitude to American Iron & Metal and all donors.
The elegant ambience of the event was enhanced by the appearance of lyric soprano Stephanie Yelovich, who performed operatic pieces by Mozart, Dvorak and Gershwin. She was accompanied on the piano by Blair Salter. Attendees also enjoyed Croatian melodies provided by the Frajeri Tamburica Ensemble, who serenaded guests during the course of the evening.
A number of media outlets from Europe and North America were present to cover the festivities. In addition to the Voice of the Homeland program from Croatian Radio-Television (HRT) and OMNI TV’s local Croatian program Cronet, a number of major Canadian networks covered the Prime Minister’s address and his presentation of awards to the scholarship and bursary recipients.
Written by Frank Jankać
Click on the "PHOTO" tab at the top of this page for a sampling of photos.
The Chamber gratefully acknowledges the 2012 Business Excellence Awards event sponsors for their support: 

Title Event Sponsors 

Major Sponsors 
Baka Gallery-Lounge 
Stikeman Elliott LLP 

Signature Sponsors 
BMD Tool & Machine Co. Ltd.
Krčmar Surveyors Ltd. 
Likro Precision Limited 
Mirus Wines & Spirits 
RR Donnelley 
Verbanac Law Firm 
Sounds of Croatia Radio Program 

Table Sponsors 
Alpeza General Contracting Inc.
Altech Security Systems 
Ashley Oaks Homes 
Buduchnist Credit Union 
Burgeonvest Securities Limited 
Canadian Star Aluminum 
Coordinate Industries Ltd. 
Croatian Sports & Community Centre of Hamilton 
Dalmi Inc. 
Dr. Tony Ožanić, Dentist 
Draganjac Pressman 
Drywall Acoustic Lathing & Insulation Local Union 675 
Filmar Electric 
First Gulf Corporation 
Helena Blažić, CIBC 
I.T. Mission Inc. 
Jitsu Manufacturing Inc. 
King East Dental, Dr. Brian Kelemen 
Kremisco Engineering Inc. – AMCA Toronto 
Likro Precision Limited 
Longo Development Corp. 
Mike Pelaić 
Mirus Wines & Spirits
Modern Age Plastics Inc. 
Mr. Rooter 
Pocrnic Realty Advisors Inc. 
Stikeman Elliott LLP 
Stone Church Family Dentistry, Dr. Lillian Ivanković 
Sutton Group – Signature Realty Inc., Brokerage 
Tampa Interior Systems 
Tippet-Richardson, John Novak 
Winzen Corporation Inc. 

Student Table Sponsors 
Assante Wealth Management, Tom Cooney and Steve Krašić 
Masters Insurance 
Pro-Art Dental Laboratory 

Student Individual(s) Sponsors 
Dr. Tony Ožanić, Dentist 
King East Dental, Dr. Brian Kelemen 
Michael J. Prša 
Nedo Zebić 
Prime Restaurants 
Robert Hudaj 
Stone Church Family Dentistry, Dr. Lillian Ivanković 
Tippet-Richardson, John Novak 
Verbanac Law Firm

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