Two South Asians Receive B.C.’s Highest Honour


Vancouver business leader, volunteer and philanthropist Hari B. Varshney and Dr. Saida Rasul, a Vancouver dentist and volunteer, who has been helping to improve the lives of the less fortunate, have been recognized for their contributions.

By R. Paul Dhillon

VICTORIA – Two South Asians are among 16 exceptional civic leaders who will be appointed to the Order of British Columbia (O.B.C.), the Province’s highest form of recognition, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, Chancellor of the Order, announced Friday.

Vancouver business leader, volunteer and philanthropist Hari B. Varshney and Dr. Saida Rasul, a Vancouver dentist and volunteer, who has been helping to improve the lives of the less fortunate, have been recognized for their contributions.

Dr. Saida Rasul

“For 26 years, the Order of British Columbia has recognized the remarkable accomplishments and efforts by extraordinary British Columbians,” said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. “This year we honour British Columbians from a variety of fields, each recipient illustrating the positive difference just one person can make in the lives of many.”

“The Order of British Columbia recognizes British Columbians whose positive impact is felt throughout the province and, in some cases, the world,” said Premier Christy Clark. “This year’s recipients have utilized their talent and passion to make a difference. On behalf of all British Columbians, I want to thank them for their dedication, and all they do to make B.C. a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

This year’s Recipients of the Order of BC are:

*Ron Burnett, C.M of Vancouver – Distinguished academic in media, arts and communications

*Tim Collings of Surrey – Inventor of the V-Chip to filter inappropriate TV content

*Kerry and Ginny Dennehy of Whistler – Champions for preventing suicide-related depression in young people

*Jane Dyson of Vancouver – Advocate for people with disabilities in B.C.

*Allan B. Etmanski, C.M., M.S.M of Surrey – Driving force in social innovation and accessibility initiatives

*Chief Robert Joseph of North Vancouver – Leader dedicated to renewing relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians

*Barry Lapointe of Kelowna – Visionary aviation entrepreneur and community mentor

*Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia of West Vancouver – Inspirational community leader and philanthropist

*Dr. Saida Rasul of Vancouver – Dentist and volunteer for improving the lives of the less fortunate

*Norman J. Rolston of Langley – Inventor of the Able Walker for mobility- impaired people

*Jim Shepard of Vancouver – Business leader and philanthropist

*Tamara Taggart of Vancouver – Volunteer supporting health care, the well-being of children and people with disabilities

*Hari B. Varshney of Vancouver – Business leader, volunteer and philanthropist

*Sing Lim Yeo of Vancouver – Long-time volunteer and philanthropist

*Melvin N. Zajac, C.M. of Vancouver – Fundraiser for children with special needs and seniors with disabilities

Over the years, government has worked to increase awareness of the Province’s highest honour so that men and women from all eligible categories learn of the opportunity. Government also relies on community members and organizations to help identify and honour outstanding citizens. The Province has received over 5,000 nominations for the Order of British Columbia in 26 years.

This year, 249 British Columbians were nominated for the Order of British Columbia, an 18% increase over last year and one of the highest since its inaugural year in 1989. More than half the nominations came from the Lower Mainland with the remaining 99 coming from other regions throughout the Province.

Since its inception, 386 British Columbians have been appointed to the O.B.C. Members have been appointed from all regions of the province and in numbers generally proportionate to a region’s population. For example, 61% of the appointees have come from the Lower Mainland/Southwest region, which has 62% of the population. Similarly, the North has 4% of the population and 4% of the appointees are from that region.

Recipients of the Order of British Columbia are selected by an independent advisory committee from public nominations. The 2015 Advisory Committee consists of: The Honourable Robert J. Bauman (Chair), chief justice of British Columbia; The Honourable Linda Reid, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; Dr. Mark Evered, president and vice-chancellor, Fraser Valley University; Athana Mentzelopoulos, deputy minister, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat; Sav Dhaliwal, president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities; Don Lindsay, O.B.C., and Bob Rennie, O.B.C. (2014 recipients of the Order).

The Order of British Columbia investiture ceremony will be held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria on June 15, 2015.


Hari B. Varshney

Hari Varshney is a leading British Columbia business person who, through his vision, tireless commitment, initiative and philanthropic activities, has positively touched the lives of many and has made a significant and sustainable impact throughout our province.

Hari is the founder of Varshney Capital, a merchant banking and venture capital firm which has contributed significantly to the economy of, and investment in, B.C., particularly in resources and technology. The various Varshney Capital holdings over the last 33 years have employed hundreds of British Columbians.

Born in a rural village in India, Hari arrived in Vancouver in 1967 with less than $100 to his name to accept an MBA scholarship from UBC. He credits the province of B.C. for creating the platform for him to achieve much success in life. He was the first Indo-Canadian to achieve a Chartered Accountant designation and the first to achieve the Fellowship designation (FCA) from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC, which is bestowed on CAs in recognition of the service and honour they have brought to the profession.

Hari has been a leader to the community, to multiculturalism, to education and in developing new leaders to strengthen the B.C. economy. He volunteers his time and contributes financially to a multitude of organizations and numerous charitable endeavours at universities, hospitals and temples.

Hari has brought his considerable leadership to help link academic, clinical, business and philanthropic leaders toward the goal of improving knowledge translation and finding health care solutions that lead to a healthier, more productive population. He has received many awards including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.

Dr. Saida Rasul

Dr. Saida Rasul is a dentist and community volunteer focused on the improvement of the lives of the less fortunate in British Columbia and in many other countries.

During her tenure on the board of governors of SFU, Saida stewarded capital projects in excess of $200 million. She was on the front line for securing the Centre for Performing Arts on Hastings Street in Vancouver. Saida championed the creation of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Cultures and Societies at SFU by making a substantial financial contribution and chairing the fundraising campaign for the centre.

With her husband, Firoz, Saida’s philanthropy includes gifts to the BC Cancer Agency, SFU, UBC, United Way and BC Children’s Hospital, among others. Their total philanthropic giving over the years amounts to nearly $12 million.

Saida is a volunteer to the Aga Khan University where she has applied her professional expertise to help set up two preventive dental programs as part of the hospital systems operating in East Africa and in Pakistan. It is complemented by distance learning with faculty at Canadian and American universities to help upgrade skills of local practitioners.

She is working with a team of volunteers to set up a diploma of dental hygiene program at the Aga Khan University to train students from East Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan who will go back and improve the oral health and general health of their rural communities.

In recognition of her sustained community contributions over three decades, SFU conferred an honorary Doctor of Law to Saida. She also received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal as well as recent recognition by the British Columbia and Canadian Dental Associations for her contribution to the profession.

Comments are closed