(Canadian Immigrant): To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, we are looking back at some of the past honourees over the years in this special “Where are they now” series.
Spotlight on Ai Thien Tran (RBC Top 25 2012)
Ai Thien Tran has been busy in the past five years since being chosen as an RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant in 2012. Working as a social worker with the Government of Alberta in the addictions and mental health services, Tran has been lauded for his efforts. “After receiving the RBC Top 25 award, I had the honour of receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in February 2013. I also had the honour to be featured among distinguished Canadians in a special issue of Maclean’s magazine celebrating Canada’s 149th birthday,” he says.
During Social Workers’ Week of 2017 (February 28 to March 5), Tran was invited to the Alberta Legislative Assembly where he met with several dignitaries including the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta, Kathleen Ganley. On April 18, 2017, he was again invited to the Alberta Legislative Assembly a second time and recognized as “a remarkable Canadian” and for his “advocacy and making a difference in the lives of Albertans.”
Those who know the Vietnamese-born Tran are in awe of his success in Canada considering his journey to his adopted country has been fraught with challenges. He spent 12 years as a stateless refugee in a refugee camp in the Philippines, facing many hardships as a displaced person before he immigrated to Canada. Now Tran is an active social worker in his community who is also involved in the Vietnamese Canadian Federation and the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Ottawa Parole Office.
When he won the RBC Top 25 award in 2012, he mentioned how family support, self-motivation and a can-do attitude were the key factors that helped him succeed in Canada. Even today, he strongly believes that those are the very same things that would help other newcomers to Canada, too.
“Receiving the RBC Top 25 award means the world to me,” he says. “To know that my efforts and hard work have been recognized by others is very humbling. The award has reaffirmed my belief that with passion, effort and persistence, everything is possible. Moreover, I felt privileged to be in the company of the other Top 25 winners who are such extraordinary individuals.”
Tran graduated from McGill’s School of Social Work in 2009, and while there, he received a Golden Key International Honour Society Award (one of only 10 awarded globally) for balancing academic excellence with leadership and service to the community, and he also received the Sadie Aronoff Leadership Award. This year, he’s being honoured again by the annual McGill Alumni Association Honours and Awards; he was selected to be the 2018 recipient of the James G. Wright Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has demonstrated exemplary service to and made a difference in his or her community. Tran is looking forward to attend the ceremony in Montreal on April 18.
For Tran, this award along with his Top 25 honour has only encouraged him further to keep helping others help themselves.