Press Release


Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by SAAAC No Comments


Toronto, Canada – Two Tamil Canadian immigrants will be honored as 2015 Pioneers for Change at the Pioneers for Change Fundraiser and Awards to be held on June 11. Skills for Change will introduce the recipients at a press conference to be held at 11 am on Friday May 29th, 2015.

Geetha Moorthy,Founder & Executive Director of the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre based in Scarborough, will receive the “Excellence in Social Impact” award.

Moorthy immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in 1983, and has held senior roles in controllership and operations, including her last role as Vice President of Operations at IWI Consulting Group. Geetha also founded the Narthanalaya Centre for South Asian Dances in 1985. It was at Narthanalaya that Geetha first came across some students who were diagnosed with autism.

In 2008, Geetha founded the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) in direct response to the growing need for awareness and support for South Asian families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related developmental disorders. The Centre now serves more than 120 families impacted by autism and is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, therapists, social workers, administrative staff, and more than 100 volunteers.

The other recipient is internationally acclaimed author, Shyam Selvadurai. Selvadurai, who is of mixed Tamil and Sinhalese heritage, will receive the “Excellence in Art” award.

Shyam was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1965. He came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. Funny Boy, his first novel, was published to acclaim in 1994 and won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and in the US the Lambda Literary Award. His novel for young adults, Swimming, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and is the winner of the Lambda Literary Award in the US, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award and Silver Winner in the Young Adult Category of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award.

Other awards recipients include labor activist and CAW-Grindin Chair, Dr. Winnie Ng, Deputy Chief of Police, Peter Sloly, and creator of CBC’s NEW CANADIANS, and founder of New Horizons Media, Gerard Keledjian.

 The PfC Fundraiser Gala and Awards will take place on Thursday, June 11 2015, at the St James Cathedral Hall in Toronto, from 6-10pm.

The fundraising gala will bring together 200 business, civic and community leaders, as well as other activists for an evening of networking and performances to celebrate the achievements of this year’s Honourees and Award Recipients.

Member for Parliament for Toronto-St.Paul, Carolyn Bennett, will speak during the opening ceremony and other civic leaders will also attend the event.

Skills for Change would like to thank our lead sponsors, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA), and Princess Auto, as well as all of our sponsors for their continued support.

The Awards are hosted by Skills for Change (SfC), who for over 32 years has supported the integration and well-being of immigrants and refugees in Canada. SfC provides settlement services, professional immersion, language, capacity building and other services that help newcomers overcome the obstacles of settling in Canada.

 Pioneers for Change Website:

 Tickets to fundraiser:

 Skills for Change website:

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 For more information please contact Manik Gunatilleke at 

Skills for Change is a United Way agency, funded by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto.