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May 1, 2008
Toronto, Canada

Hon. Greg Sorbara, Member of Provincial Parliament, Ontario; Hon. John Tory, Leader, Progressive Conservative Party, Ontario; and Shri Satish Mehta, Consul-General of India in Toronto were co-hosts at the Gala Evening supporting the Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadians held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto on May 1, 2008. The Honorable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development was the Chief Guest.

The Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadians is Canada's premier museum dedicated to showcasing and promoting the understanding of the history, civilization, diversity and cultural heritage of Canadians whose ancestry originates from India. The Museum is uniquely designed to inspire visitors to appreciate how the rich heritage of Indo-Canadians has contributed to the fields of art, architecture, science, democracy, education, culture, pluralism and spiritual values. It elaborates on and creatively displays, both to educate and experience the over 10,000-year-old colorful and continuously living civilization.

Many high profile corporate and political were present with family, friends, colleagues and clients to share an evening of enchanting experiences. The guests enjoyed the beauty of the architecture of the museum with a personal tour of the complex and marveled at the intricacy of the wood and marble carvings and sculptures.

After the tour, guests savored an elegant Indian dinner in the beautiful Haveli as they enjoyed enchanting music. 12-year-old member of the BAPS children's forum, Neil Wadhvana moved the audience with his beautiful rendition of the national anthems of Canada and India. This was followed by a lively multi-media presentation of Indo-Canadian Heritage. During his presentation, the Chief Guest, Hon. Monte Solberg presented a golden 'Amrut Kalash' to the Museum on behalf of the Prime Minister of Canada. This was the same 'Amrut Kalash' that Pramukh Swami Maharaj had given to the Prime Minister during the inauguration of the Museum on July 22, 2007. The Prime Minister had now gifted the historic 'Amrut Kalash' back to the community to be kept in the Museum.

"There is tremendous diversity within the Indo-Canadian community, in terms of both religion and country of origin," said Minister Solberg. "The architecture of this building alone is a testament to the many ways that Indo-Canadian culture and traditions have enriched Canada."

Minister Duguid delivered a message from Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of the Province of Ontario applauding the Museum, "The museum not only educates visitors about the vibrant culture, rich traditions and storied lives of Canadians of Indian descents - it also celebrates the tremendous social, cultural and economic contributions that Indo-Canadians have made and continue to make, to our province and our Country."

On behalf of BAPS, the co-hosts and patrons presented each of the major sponsors of the evening with a special Certificate of Appreciation and a beautifully hand-carved gift.

Hon. Jason Kenney, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), sent a special message saying: "At the grand opening of this facility, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, 'the BAPS Swaminarayan complex stands as a testament to Canada's and India's proud traditions of pluralism.' This gala gives us a chance to reflect on the ways in which Indian culture and heritage have enriched the Canadian mosaic. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the skills and knowledge of Indo-Canadians and their ancestors, which are reflected in the building's architecture, exhibits, and activities."

In honor of the celebration, The Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage) released a special statement to all media proclaiming: "The Government of Canada Delivers Message of Support to Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadian."

The Prime Minister of Canada continues to remember his experience with BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the volunteers and often refers to his visit to the Mandir/Museum during his speaking engagements. At a recent public event in Toronto, he said: "I attended the opening of the BAPS Swaminarayan Complex here in Toronto last summer (July 22, 2007). It is a truly extraordinary building, one of the architectural wonders of the world. It simply would not exist here with out the influence and the support of tens of thousands of Canadians of Indian heritage."

Greetings and blessings were also brought to the gathering from Pramukh Swami Maharaj as the inspirer and creator of the Museum and Mandir. The Gala Evening ended with a colorful and riveting farewell dance performed by members of the BAPS youth group. Many of the guests, who were visiting the BAPS Complex for the first time, said that they would like to return with their family, friends and colleagues to see the Museum and Mandir.

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