Category Archives: OKA Kudos

A KONKANI WINS A JUNO!! Ravi Naimpally now has a Juno

At this year’s 51st Annual Juno Awards Ceremony, Toronto-based world-jazz ensemble Avataar won the award for vocal jazz album of the year (group) for their album WORLDVIEW. Led by Sundar Viswanathan a multiple-JUNO nominated jazz saxophonist, vocalist and composer, the sextet features vocalist Felicity Williams, guitarist Michael Occhipinti, bassist Justin Gray, tabla player Ravi Naimpally and drummer Max Senitt. The record also has contributions from Aaron Lightstone on oud and Todd Pentney on keys.

Ravi Naimpally and his parents Sudha and Late Somashekhar Naimpally have been long standing members of OKA. Most of us know the Naimpally family very well.

Born in Kanpur, Uttarpradesh, Ravi Naimapally lived in Thunder Bay and Ottawa before settling in Toronto.  He completed his High School in Thunder Bay, got his B.A. from Carleton University, Ottawa, and Master’s degree from York University, Toronto.

His father Late Somashekhar Naimpally was a mathematician and his mother was an occupational therapist and both were music aficionados. They moved to Canada in the 1970s, at which point his parents started organizing concerts of Hindustani classical music. His brother Shiv is also a learned tabla player and works as a patent lawyer, his sister Anuradha is a professional Bharatnatyam dancer. 

Ravi gives full credit to his parents for his interest and involvement in music. In his own words “…. music was being played in our house from morning to night every day. His parents would also arrange concerts in Kanpur and then in Thunder Bay, thus Ravi was able to listen to and meet masters like Bismillah Khan, Begum Akhtar, Amjad Ali Khan, Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Buddaditya Mukherjee, Ashwini Bhide and many more.”

Ravi’s main Gurus were Pandit Nikhil Ghosh and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee. He has also learned a lot from Pandit Sadanand Nayampalli and Pandit Sushil Kumar Jain. 

Avataar is a world-jazz group based in Toronto. Their album Worldview was released in October 2021 “which was inspired by the deep musical traditions of India, Africa, and Brazil, rooted within the framework of modern jazz. In an innovative marriage of ancient and modern, driving grooves intersect with cinematic atmospheres and soaring melodies, creating a fresh, emotive sonic experience. Bandmembers share an eclectic range of musical expertise – hardbop, pop, rock, electronica, free improvisation, world, and R&B/Soul filter into the interpretations of the tunes.”

“While Avataar’s debut album, Petal, explored the evanescence of human life and was a call for a return to spiritual connectedness, Worldview attempts to also present a musical commentary on the state of our world, on the pandemic, and on the inability of our leaders to lead with integrity, honesty, and compassion. While the actions of our leaders affected so many, some of the songs started as gut responses to the treatment of children, our most valuable and vulnerable citizens, and act as vehicles of catharsis for the composer.”

The ensemble is a recipient of the 2016 Toronto Jazz Festival Special Projects Initiative award, The group has appeared at the Markham Jazz Festival, Small World Festival, the Sudbury Jazz Festival, and the Brampton Global Jazz Festival as well as at the Lula Lounge, known for playing international salsa, jazz, and world music.

To my question What are your goals? Ravi simply responded, “my goals are to keep learning and getting better and bringing joy to listeners”. Wishing Ravi all the very best in his musical journey.

Compiled by Sadanand Mankikar

Source: Personal communication with Ravi Naimpally and Avaatar website.

Surekha Shenoy 2022 Ontario Liberal Party Candidate, Cambridge

Surekha Shenoy is an accomplished business professional, a strategic thinker; and a leader in motivating community members.  Surekha is a strong believer in an inclusive society and is  passionate about our healthcare, environment, housing affordability, education, and the economy. She has been actively supporting visible minority groups and Indigenous Peoples issues for close to 2 decades. She mentors youth, entrepreneurs and professionals to help set them up for success.

 Surekha has a passion for volunteering with a track record of supporting social causes and community initiatives, such as mentoring ‘Youth on Board’, Trinity Community Table (Soup  Kitchen), and the Self Help Food Bank to name a few. As the past Chair & Director of the  Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation (CMHF), Surekha championed many initiatives for the  Foundation including its $50M Capital Campaign and the CMH Diversity Outreach Dinners by engaging with over 60 diverse community groups in the Waterloo Region.

Surekha currently sits on the Board of Directors for Hospice of Waterloo Region and is Co-Chair of the East Indian Community Walkathon of Waterloo Region which has raised over $400K for local hospitals. She also serves as a Senior Advisor to the Cooksville BIA of Mississauga, Ontario, and is an advisor/consultant to many small businesses. Surekha was also the Ontario  Liberal Party candidate for the Riding of Kitchener South Hespeler for the 2018 Ontario  Provincial Election.  

As a professional, Surekha spent most of her career as an executive in the banking sector managing the small business portfolio for a leading financial institution. Surekha has her M.Sc.  in Industrial Systems Engineering from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, and an MBA in  Finance and Operations from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She lives in  Cambridge with her husband Revi Kizhatil and their two daughters Ankita & Anoosha Kizhatil.

Dr. Lucky Lakshmanan, supporter of OKA receives Order of Canada

We are extremely happy that Dr. V. I. (Lucky) Lakshmanan, has been conferred with the highly prestigious Order of Canada by the Office of the Governor General of Canada For his philanthropy and for his expertise in hydrometallurgy and business, which have greatly benefited his profession, community and Canada-India relations”.

Dr. Lakshmanan is one of the Founders of Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation Canada and currently he is Chairman of SVBF Canada. For nearly 50 years, he has helped and mentored countless newcomers to Canada to settle, find jobs and become contributing members of the community. 

Dr. Lakshmanan has always shown great interest in the OKA activities and wholeheartedly supported OKA Senior’s Forum and Health Awareness Program.  His active participation in and financial support to the Health Seminars will never be forgotten.

Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan is an internationally renowned teacher, scientist, and innovator in the area of sustainable development. He has more than 40 years of experience in technology commercialization and skills development initiatives with both private and public sectors including the United Nations. He has successfully guided process technologies from concept through development and demonstration to commercialization for resource, energy and chemical industries.

Dr. Lakshmanan moved to Canada in 1974 after serving as Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, UK. His corporate experience includes positions at Noranda, Eldorado Nuclear, ORTECH Corporation and Process Research ORTECH, the last of which he founded and guided to become a global leader in sustainable process technologies through its laboratory and pilot plant.

While congratulating Dr.  Lucky Lakshmanan for this great achievement, we take this opportunity to thank him for his support to the OKA activities.

*Some of the information was obtained from the announcement by Canada India Foundation on Wednesday, December 29, 2021


TECHNICAL SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR SENIORS: “Super Tech Savvy Seniors” is the brainchild of Ria Koppikar a 11th grade student from Minneapolis to help seniors feel confident and comfortable in the use of the emerging Technology. Ria with her team members Aditya Pai, Ananya Pai and Kiran Swan, all from Canada, is ready to help seniors online. Those who need any assistance in handling emails, phones and computers/programs may email their questions to Ria is also looking for youth to help her on the Team. Those who want to volunteer should send an email to the same address. This program is mutually beneficial. We thank Ria for this initiative and wish her all the very best.

OKA EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM: Estate, Will and Power of Attorney and End of Life Planning are two major elements of this OKA Seniors Forum Program.

For preparing Wills and Powers of Attorney you may contact Marvin Talksy (905) 405-0199 ext.  257 or Mary Bojkovski (905) 405-0199 ext. 276 of Nanda & Associate Lawyers. For additional information or assistance, you may also contact Raghunath Kamath or Ashok Bhatt.

For End of Life Planning one may contact Harjinder Bilku of Chapel Ridge Funeral Home at (905) 305-8128 or (647) 966-0093.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS KITS: If you have not received complimentary kits, for a limited time, you may obtain them by sending an email to Additional small, medium and large size kits at cost may be obtained by sending an email to the same address.

Additional information about OKA Seniors’ Forum is posted on

Feature image source