Asian Heritage Celebrated

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:35 a.m. May 7, 2015

A year after migrating to Canada from Kuwait as a boy, Constable Ryan Braganza knew exactly what career he would pursue in his new home.

A group of people standing in a row, some hold awards, three are men in TPS uniform, one is a woman in TPS uniform
Constables Johnny Bobbili and Ryan Braganza alongside fellow award winners students Jaimitkumar Patel and Desame Zekaria, as well as Raja Kanaga from the CPLC and Staff Sergeant Debra Houston and Superintendent John Tanouye

“I was going to be a police officer,” the 41 Division officer said, after receiving a Leadership Award at the Asian Heritage Month launch on May 6 at Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute. “To be frank, I didn’t know what I wanted to do before I came here, but policing would certainly not have been on the list because it’s different here than it is in my birth country.”

While walking through Woodside Square, Braganza – who was 11 years old at the time – was attracted to a police recruiting booth set up in the mall close his home.

“I went over and talked to the officers and, when I got home, I told my parents I wanted to be a police officer,” he said. “That was it.”

When he was 14 years old, Braganza called Constable Susan Mundy – then a member of 42 Division  – to inquire about volunteer opportunities.

“She told me to come in and, soon after that, I was volunteering for Toronto Police at the Police Games and other events in the Division and city,” he added.

A graduate of Francis Libermann Catholic High School, Braganza joined the Service six years ago.

“I have had absolutely no regrets,” he said. “This is the best job ever. You are doing something different every day, so no two days are the same. If I am not on the job, I like to go out into the community and give back. That is very fulfilling.”

Girls in costume dance on a stage
Performers take to the stage for Asian Heritage Month at Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute

Awards were also presented to Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute students Jaimitkumar Patel and Desame Zekaria, as well as Raja Kanaga of the Chief’s South & West Asian Consultative Committee.

Divisional Policing Support Unit Constable Johnny Bobbili, who joined the Service 13 years ago, was also the recipient of an award for his dedicated community service.

“It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized by 41 Division,” he said. “It shows that DPSU is doing a great job in the community.”

41 Division unit commander Superintendent John Tanouye made the presentations.

“Scarborough has a strong representation of Asian Canadians and our Division is a reflection of the city,” he said.

Acting Chief Mark Saunders said the government recognizing Asian Heritage month shows how Canadians celebrate multiculturalism.

“It is important because each and every one of our cultures has helped make this country. So having Asian Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to open the books to read and to learn, so that you feel important and that you have an understating that you have contributed and your forefathers have contributed to the success of Canada,” Saunders said.

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee said Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the diverse cultures and achievements of Asian Canadians who play a vital role in the unique and powerful multicultural mosaic of Canada.

“Dance, music and food are no doubt very important aspects of Asian heritage,” said Mukherjee, who migrated from India in 1971. “It’s also very important to recognize that this heritage consists of many stories and experiences of struggle, resistance and triumph, stories and experiences that have made a huge impact on the history and current reality of what Canada is.”

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