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Sukhdev Toor and his wife Sukhjit donated $1-million to CAMH to support young people’s mental health and raise awareness of mental health issues in the South Asian community.Handout

The organizers: The Toor family

The pitch: Donating $1-million for mental-health programs for young people

When Sukhdev Toor arrived in Canada in 1983 from India, he came with a degree in engineering and high hopes for success.

But like a lot of immigrants, Mr. Toor found life difficult at first and he ended up in a series of odd jobs around Toronto while studying for an MBA at the University of Waterloo. Owing to a relative who owned a motel, Mr. Toor got into the hospitality trade and he eventually founded Manga Hotels, which owns and operates 18 properties in Canada and the United States.

As the business grew, Mr. Toor and his wife, Sukhjit, launched a family foundation with a focus on tackling health and wellness issues. One of their main causes has been raising awareness about mental health. “We are trying to address the stigma about mental illness especially in the South Asian community,” Mr. Toor said. “Recent data shows that South Asians are 80 per cent less likely to seek treatment for mental illness.”

The family recently donated $1-million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH, to strengthen its NAVIGATE program, which provides mental-health services to young adults. The Toors hope their gift will allow NAVIGATE to broaden its reach beyond Toronto and particularly to northern communities.

Mr. Toor’s daughter, Neelu, said that even before the pandemic, NAVIGATE had been expanding its online resources, something that has become even more important during the outbreak. “This gift has been so timely because these resources have come to fruition and used especially in the last year,” she said.

Ms. Toor added that her father wanted to contribute to the program because he felt that it was “important to invest in Canada and invest back into the future.”