Headlines      Issue Released June 4 2003

Vaughan Beauties: From left, Kalista Zakhariyas - Miss Vaughan, Sarah Balkissoon, President of Upscale Events Inc., and Eleni Voskakis - Miss Teen Vaughan.

Queens of the

‘City above Toronto’

By Manshad Mohamed

Prominent Indo Caribbean promoter Mrs Sarah Balkissoon was the organizer of the first ever City of Vaughan Pageant for Miss Vaughan and Miss Teen Vaughan which took place on May 23, 2003 at La Vita Centre on Steeles Avenue, West. This event is a preliminary to the Miss Canada and Miss Teen Canada International Pageants .

President of Upscale Events Inc., Sarah is devoted to organizing pageants, cultural shows, cruises and other promotional programs. She is also the Regional Director of Miss Canada International (MCI) and Miss Teen Canada International (MTCI) Pageants for the Region of Vaughan.

Sarah expressed pleasure in being able to feature contestants who have an interest in charity and volunteer work. "The ladies involved in this pageant wanted to show the community their potential and give something back by being ambassadors for their region and perhaps their country," she said.

Echoing this sentiment, Sylvia Stark, President of MCI stated that they are not only in the business of beauty but are "Ambassadors for Canada."

Among those present was Lorenza Samarelli, Miss Canada 2003, the Mayor of Vaughan Michael Di Biase, Councillors Joyce Frustaglio and Mario G. Rocco and Mr Nirvan Balkissoon who is also President of the Canadian Hindu Arts and Cultural Society (CHACS).

Six of the nine delegates vied for the Miss Vaughan Title and three, for the title of Miss Teen Vaughan. Miss Congeniality, Eleni Voskakis, was chosen by all the delegates and Rosemary Spagnuolo was chosen as Miss Photogenic. Miss Teen Vaughan is Eleni Voskakis and her runner-up, Mihaela Palic. Kalista Zakhariyas (Sri Lankan born) was elected as Miss Vaughan and her runner-up is Justine Vella.

The High Definition Dance Group performed and seven year old Natasha Ramcharan danced to Indian music to the 98% Canadian audience.

Sarah announced that the proceeds of the evening would go towards opening the first full-time Canadian Hindu Immersion Day School.

Sarah is urging Indo Caribbeans to come forward and be proud of who they are. "Participating in these activities involving other communities is one sure way to expose our culture to the Canadian mainstream," she advised.

Govt Summer Jobs Program

Toronto — For young people who would be off school soon and looking for employment, there are lots of summer jobs available through the Government of Ontario Summer Jobs Program. This, according to a release from the Ontario Government which advises that those seeking summer jobs, or to start their own businesses should contact their Provincial Member of Parliament (MPP).

Their MPP will "connect you with employers who want to hire students and ...help you get a job with the Ontario government."

Persons in the west end of the city may contact the Office of Hon. Tony Clement, MPP (Brampton-West Mississauga), Tel (905) 796-8669, the office of Joe Spina, MPP (Brampton Centre), Tel (905) 840-9244 or the office of Raminder Gill, MPP (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale), Tel (905) 799-3939.


BWIA still struggling

Now govt taking hard look at debt, management

By Sandra Chouthi

Special to Indo Caribbean World

Port-of-Spain — The government of Trinidad and Tobago has bailed out the local airline BWIA, which is on the brink of bankruptcy having had at least four of its planes seized, on the condition that there be an immediate shake-up in its management.

BWIA, which has been struggling to stay in the black since the September 11, 2001, bombing of New York’s World Trade Centre, had its first aircraft. A Boeing 737, seized by its lessor, International Lease and Finance Company (ILFC) on May 20 in Miani, leaving more than 100 pasengers stranded. ILFC agents boarded the BW flight 483 as it was being prepared to fly to Piarco from Miami international airport.

At the time, Clint Williams, the airline’s communications manager, described the incident as "an isolated one" which the airline could "have under control in a day or two."

The affected passengers were accommodated at a hotel in Miani until the airline sent another aircraft to bring them to Trinidad.

Williams said he did not believe there was reason for other creditors to move in to recover money owed to them because "with support, BWIA will be able to regularise payments.

Of BWIA’s seven-aircraft fleet, six are leased from ILFC, while the other is from GECAS.

It’s not clear just how much money the airline owes ILFC, but it has been reported in April that it paid the lessor (US) $4 million in order to stave off seizure of its aircraft.

The engine of a 9Y BGI has been in the hangar for the last month. Its engine was sent for servicing and is now being withheld until payment is made.

BWIA also had a difficult year in 2002, losing (Can) $45.5 million.

In late 2002, the government bailed out the airline to the tune of (Can) $3.25 million, and in April last, the government also approved a (Can) $29 million package to keep BWIA flying.

The second airline to be impounded in Miami occurred on May 22, leading Prime Minister Patrick Manning to declare that the government was "fast approaching" a position where it felt that it has had enough to the point where it might well let the airline go bust.

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G. Prasad Caribbean & Oriental - blazing new trails in the food business

In a matter of just 13 years the efforts of one individual with staunch support from his devoted family and a strong sense of good business ethics have seen his fortunes grow into what is undoubtedly one of the great success stories in West Indian entrepreneurship in Toronto.

The familiar name of G. Prasad Caribbean and Oriental Specialty Foods which hitherto offered services in both the East and West ends of the City is now quite conspicuous in a third prominent location, at 4559 Sheppard Avenue East, just a stone’s throw from Brimley Road, in the heart of the bustling West Indian neighbourhood of Scarborough.

The new store represents a major advance in the G. Prasad’s enterprise and promises marked improvements for patrons accustomed to shop at West Indian outlets.

For one thing: the new facilities are not rented but are fully owned by the Prasads which in itself will mean more flexibility and enhanced services than is otherwise possible.

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