Richmond lost one of its most generous citizens with the death of Milan Ilich last week.
Most people are aware of the Milan and Maureen Ilich Foundation's very large and generous donations to the Richmond Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital to enable them to purchase vital medical imaging equipment.
What most people are unaware of is the multitude of Richmond organizations that were recipients of the Ilich family's quiet generosity over several decades.
During the early years of Milan and Maureen's business, even when times were tough, they contributed to social service groups in Richmond.
Milan would meet with the chairperson of the then Health and Social Service Committee of Richmond city council and ask which groups needed funds to enable them to continue their work.
In 1992, when I started the Working Poor Fund, I approached Milan for his support.
He donated $25,000 to launch the fund, which I am pleased to say, continues to assist families in Richmond to this day. As always, Milan refused any public acknowledgment of his donation.
Milan was a kind unpretentious man who believed you should give back to the community that helped you succeed in business. He successfully challenged others to do the same, as some also stepped up. Milan gave from the heart and wanted no reward other than knowing that he was able to lend a hand when needed. Richmond will miss him. I will miss him.
Voting is key
July 1 was Canada's 144th birthday. I am a very grateful immigrant to Canada. I love this country with all its diversity and the challenges that diversity brings with it. My parents chose to immigrate to Canada from Yugoslavia because of what Canada stood for and what it stood against.
It was not easy for them to leave their family, friends, and everything familiar to come to a new country where they did not know anyone, did not speak or understand the language and had no jobs.
But like many others before and after them, they wanted a better life for their children.
They wanted to live in a country that allowed them freedom of speech, freedom to disagree with government without reprisal, freedom to practice the religion of their choice or to believe in no religion at all, freedom to retain their cultural heritage and still fully integrate into Canadian society and way of life, the freedom and ability to pursue and achieve anything they set their minds too.
That is the Canada my parents brought me to and that is still the Canada that I love and will stand up for and protect.
My parents taught me that as a Canadian citizen I have a responsibility to protect the democratic process.
They also taught me that not only do I have the right to vote but also a duty to vote. Voting is one of the easiest and least time consuming ways to help protect and preserve our democracy.
Even if we had an election every year, be it municipal, provincial or federal, at most it would mean is one hour per year out of your day.
Not that high a price for democracy, is it?
As we gear up for a municipal election in November and possibly a provincial election in the near future I hope that each one of you will stop and think about what it means to be a citizen of this incredible country.
Also, stop and think of what it would mean if you lost any of your democratic rights because politicians using the democratic process took them away. It can happen and has happened. Please join me and exercise your right to vote.