banker Winston Shyam Liaquat Kassim was
presented with the Order of Canada, the
country’s highest civilian honour for
Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle
Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced
new appointment to the Order of Canada, and
Kassim will be among other awardees who will
be invited to accept their insignia at a
ceremony to be held at a later date.
Kassim is Vice Chairman of the International
Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF).
The appointment cites Winston Kassim “for
his contributions as a community volunteer who
played a key role in establishing several
community and religious centres that provide
outreach services to refugees and
According to a release from the IDRF, Kassim
has made significant contributions over 30
years as a dedicated volunteer who has
demonstrated exceptional leadership with many
regional, national and international
charitable and humanitarian organizations.
“In this moment of Mr Kassim’s
recognition,” said Dr. Cassim Degani, Chair
of IDRF, “We at IDRF are especially proud as
he has devoted a considerable amount of time
to the sustainability and growth of the IDRF
over the past five years.”
Kassim is the first Guyanese to receive the
Order of Canada.
Born in Albouystown, Georgetown, Guyana, he is
the sixth of seven children of the late Guyana
Supt. of Police, Mr. Subaydar Kassim (retired
in 1971) and Hajjin Noorun Nisa Kassim. His
siblings are all professionals in their own
right. His elder brothers are retired Deputy
Commissioner of Police, Sultan Feroze Kassim
and the late Dr. Sultan Farook Kassim and his
sisters are Bibi Fernando, Dolly Dhaniram,
Anne Sawh and Ingrid Innes who are all
residing in Canada.
He attended St. Patrick’s Anglican School in
East Canje, Berbice and completed his primary
education at St. George’s Anglican School in
Georgtown. He completed his secondary
education at Indian Education Trust College in
Georgetown and then began his professional
career at Barclays Bank while still a
Mr. & Mrs Kassim were gunned at Pitt
Street, New Amsterdam (no
was mercilessly gunned
He rapidly advanced through increasingly
senior roles which led him to running various
banking operations in Dominica, St. Lucia, and
During this time Kassim completed his
professional banking exams and by the age of
22 returned to Guyana assuming his new role as
Senior Supervisor with Barclays Bank and it
was at this time that he began to focus on
It was in 1975 that Mr. Kassim made the move
with his wife, Ms. Kameni Cheddie to Canada to
seek more opportunities.
Early in his career, Kassim became drawn to
volunteerism and he credits his mother for
instilling in him his passion for community
He volunteered for organizations such as the
Junior Achievement of Ontario and United Way.
He was instrumental in the fundraising and
establishment of two prominent Greater Toronto
Area mosques in 1981, The Sunatul Jamaat of
Ontario Canada and the Malton Islamic
Association, and continues to be involved in
advisory capacities to their community
By the late the 1980s and early 1990s he had
assisted in establishing four more community
centres for other faith-based groups which
offer venues for social events, education and
skill building, all paramount to community
His impact and influence have created a
lasting legacy for these various communities
and Canada as a whole.
A well respected banker with a social
conscience, Winston Kassim, in complementing
this community building effort, also saw the
importance of people developing their life
skills, so he leveraged his expertise and
knowledge in banking to develop and deliver
financial seminars to various groups.
During the 1980s he broadened his volunteerism
to a more global stage. Along with so many
others, Kassim worked with various groups/
individuals to support the release of Nelson
Canada, as head of the Commonwealth, led the
call for sanctions against the South African
apartheid, culminating in the release of
Nelson Mandela. Canada’s efforts towards the
release of Nelson Mandela propelled it to gain
world prominence for its moral position.
As well, Mr. Kassim continued his lobbying and
advocacy by working on the committee for the
sponsorship of Nelson Mandela as an Honourary
He was a unique player in the Nelson Mandela
campaign as he represented a very small
minority of Non South Africans from corporate
Canada to champion this cause.
In continuing his humanitarianism on a global
level, Mr. Kassim has greatly contributed to
Canada’s recognition as one of the top
philanthropic countries in the world.
Mr. Kassim currently lends much of his time,
expertise and passion to IDRF where
humanitarian work benefits people in our world
community who are the victims of crisis and
disasters, or who are struggling against
deprivations caused by severe poverty.
Through Kassim’s instrumentality, the IDRF
donated $1M towards the fund for victims of
the Lusignan massacre and other causes in
Mr. Kassim has been associated with IDRF for
over 10 years with his active participation
spanning the last five years, and Board
membership for the last three years with him
currently serving as our volunteer Vice-Chair.
In this role, he assists in leading IDRF with
our work that is dedicated to empowering the
disadvantaged people of the world.
“It is volunteers such as Mr. Kassim who
help IDRF positively impact disadvantaged
people from all corners of the earth in some
26 countries, including Canada,” said Dr.
Mr. Kassim is currently Head, Strategic
Initiatives, Canadian Banking of RBC and he
holds an MBA from Athabasca University.
Despite his increasingly senior roles within
the bank, he maintains that his top priority
is his wife Kameni, three children Nadina
(married to Kiren), Shaun and Sara and
grandson Joshua, and his mother, Hajjin Noorun
Mr. Kassim includes his family in many of his
community service and volunteer efforts.
July 2, 2009