Published on February 9, 2021
AHMEDABAD: The sobriquet he earned in 1990s, ‘Mr. India’ for helping Canadian businesses grow in India, still gets Hemant Shah going. Shah, who wears many hats as executive director of global sales for Winnipeg Aviation, executive director ofi, Cubex, founder of Friends of Gujarat, Canada, and director of Canada India Trade & Marketing at Overseas Friends of India Canada, among others, was recently felicitated by the mayor of Winnipeg for his contribution to the field of trade and business.
“It’s a matter of great pride for me. I have always maintained – and am happy that the letter of appreciation mentions the fact – that India is my janmabhoomi (place ofbirth) and Canada is my karmabhoomi (place of work). I just wish the best for both my mothers always,” says Shah, 67.
His story is one of an immigrant’s dreams and to set the trend not only for the Indians in Canada, but also for all the businesspersons. Having spent more than four decades in Canada, this Kutchi Jain from Mumbai started with odd jobs, but rose in profile with his experience in fields ranging from mining to aviation, and international business relations to mentoring the next generation of Canadian business leaders from Indian diaspora.
‘That you will be leading development efforts with respect to the Canada-India Trade Corridor is a testament to your extensive enterprise and long experience in international marketing,’ mentioned the letter by Brian Bowman, the mayor of Winnipeg.
Shah has also reached out to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau recently, requesting him to uphold the Canadian motto of ‘Equity for all.’ In his letter dated February 5, Shah wrote, ‘It is imperative for Canada to maintain a just stance, especially when it comes to a close ally like India. It seems unfair to the diaspora who has been cherishing the long-lasting relations, which seem to be on the back-burner right now.’
“I do not want to make any political comment with the letter, but stating the sentiments of the diaspora. We have gained much from this bilateral trade, and there’s much ground to be covered,” said Shah, adding that he also advocates representation of Indian and Gujarati community in Canada. “The community in the US, as seen in the recent elections, has rightfully gained the representation after years of struggle. I believe we will see the leadership emerging from Canada, too.”
Shah, who has been a regular delegate from Canadian missions to India, has spoken in the House of Commons of Canada, and has been part of various trade bodies of the country. He was also instrumental in the 2000s in training youths from Ahmedabad in aviation in Canada.