Conservative Senator Vim Kochhar has been honored with the 2010 Canadian Helen Keller Center Award 'for his outstanding community service and his appointment to the Senate.
The award was presented by Cindy Accardi, executive director, Rotary Cheshire Homes and CHKC, and Larry Corke, event chair, CHKC, in Toronto.
Kochhar received the award in the presence of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, former finance minister Michael Wilson, dozens of lawmakers, bankers, business persons and community leaders.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a message applauding Kochhar's work for the disabled in his role as the founder and president of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons.
Flaherty read out the message: 'I am pleased to congratulate you as you are recognized for your extended record of community service, your philanthropic spirit and tireless work in the service of disabled persons Throughout your service as an accomplished businessman you have always found time and energy to give back to your community.'
Flaherty told India Abroad, "Kochhar is a great Canadian, dedicated supporter of persons with disability, and a very effective senator. Honoring him is important."
Conservative Senator Con DiNino, who hosted the evening along with Scotia Bank President Rick Waugh, said, "Kochhar has touched thousands of lives, particularly in families and communities with disabilities."
"Kochhar has been doing a great job and doing it quietly," said S M Gavai, Indian high commissioner. "His commitment to the cause of disabled people is remarkable. You need people with social conscience in the Senate someone from the Indo-Canadian community actively engaging in social causes creates a good impression about the community."
'I am a very proud Canadian,' Kochhar said in his speech. 'Canada has given me opportunities to work, grow and prosper. And it has been a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to serve. I picked up the torch for the disability movement from an extraordinary woman, Marg McLeod more than 30 years ago at that time, Bloorview was called the Crippled Children Centre and the media called paralympians crippled athletes. I remember when the only place for the severely disabled was to live in an institution or at home and any service to the deaf-blind was considered a waste of time and money.'
That has now changed, thanks to those who 'believed that barrier free independent living for people with disabilities was possible We believed that the wheelchair was no longer a symbol of disability, but a symbol of freedom,' he added.