Montfort Hospital lands $100K gift at Infinity Convention Centre's Infinity Cares Gala

Province's only francophone teaching hospital chosen as this year's beneficiary of annual dinner
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Marie-Josée Martel, board of trustees vice-chair of Montfort Hospital and board member with Montfort Foundation, hugs Anand Aggarwal, co-owner of Infinity Convention Centre, during the cheque presentation with Montfort Foundation president and CEO Marc Villeneuve, far right, and supporters of the Infinity Cares Gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Sometimes, doctors’ roles as health care heroes can extend beyond the walls of a hospital.

Take Dr. Rohit Gandhi, for example. He recently got married. At his wedding reception in the Toronto area, the emergency medicine doctor and researcher at Montfort Hospital got to talking with one of his parents’ friends, Ottawa businessman Anand Aggarwal, about all the good work being done at Montfort.

Aggarwal happens to be a partner at Infinity Convention Centre, a special events venue in Ottawa that hosts a big gala for a different local charity each year. Aggarwal must have liked what he heard because, when it came time for Infinity to select this year’s beneficiary, it chose Montfort Foundation.

“We feel privileged,” Marc Villeneuve, president and CEO of the Montfort Foundation, told OBJ.social shortly after arriving at Infinity for a Bollywood-themed evening of cocktails, dinner, live entertainment and dancing. 

Montfort Foundation received a ceremonial cheque later that night for $100,000. The amount came as "an incredible surprise" to Villeneuve. “I’m just so happy,” he said afterward. “This gift is way beyond our expectations. For us, its impact will directly reach our patients.”

Present were Aggarwal, his wife Saroj, their son Lalit, president of Manor Park Holdings, and the Sohal family, who are also co-owners of Infinity. 

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Dr. Rohit Gandhi and his wife, Neeru, a policy analyst with the federal government, with Saroj Aggarwal and Anand Aggarwal at Infinity Convention Centre for its Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in support of the Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Lalit Aggarwal with Marc Villeneuve, president and CEO of Montfort Foundation, at the Infinity Cares Gala held at Infinity Convention Centre on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Local developer Richcraft, owned by the Singhal family, was the event sponsor that night. The Singhals and Aggarwals are such close friends that founder Kris Singhal is known as “Uncle Kris” to Lalit. “Their generosity is unparalleled,” Lalit said at the podium while praising the humility shown by Singhal and his wife Manju as “something to aspire to."

From structural engineering consulting firm Cleland Jardine were Mike Cleland, Bob Jardine and Brian Johnson. Their company was a major sponsor, along with general contractor Westview Projects, represented by president Seth Richards and his partners, including 2021 Forty Under 40 recipient Ken Jennings.

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Manju Singhal of event sponsor Richcraft is seen with daughter Monica and granddaughters Dhara Yemm, far left, and Maya Yemm at the Infinity Cares Gala held at Infinity Convention Centre on Friday, November 12, 2021, in support of Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Christian Jennings, Brad Doran-Veevers, Ken Jennings, Seth Richards and Cedar Nisbet with full-service general contractors Westview Projects, one of the major sponsors of the Infinity Cares Gala held at Infinity Convention Centre on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Infinity Convention Centre co-owners Kiran Sohal, Sonny Sohal, TJ Sohal, Anu Sohal, Anand Aggarwal with Marc Villeneuve, president and CEO of Montfort Foundation, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Cleland Jardine partner Brian Johnson, Fitness Depot president Dave Ross and Cleland Jardine partner Bob Jardine were back at Infinity Convention Centre for the Infinity Cares Gala, having been at the venue the previous week for the the Ottawa Celebrity Sports Dinner with Jack Nicklaus. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Dozens of other businesses and members of the local Indo-Canadian community also stepped up to support the event through sponsorship and the buying of dinner tables. “When Mr. Aggarwal calls, you say ‘Yes’,” explained Vijay Tejuja, who used to be part of the grassroots Dhadkan Group with Aggarwal, back when it raised millions for the Heart Institute. Tejuja described Aggarwal as a “key person” in bringing Ottawa’s Indo-Canadian community together with the broader community.

VIPs included Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and Treasury Board President and Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier, who was born at Montfort Hospital. Ottawa-Vanier MPP Lucille Collard and Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury were also among the special guests, as was Catherine Bélanger, whose late husband, former Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger, was a tireless defender of the rights of Francophone minority communities before he passed away in 2016.

Attendees had to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the building. There were free masks available at the front door, and guests were reminded throughout the evening to wear them.

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From left, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria with Anand Aggarwal, co-owner of Infinity Convention Centre, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Oliver Schelck and Carley Schelck, owners of The Urban Element take-home meals, online cooking classes and catering business, were guests of fellow entrepreneurs Riti Gupta and Sandeep Gupta, owners of Cada día tequila, at the Infinity Cares Gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Vijay Tejuja with Treasury Board President and Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier, and his wife, Dimple Tejuja, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Chantal Jasmin and Albert Labelle, senior partner at PearTree Financial Services and Montfort Foundation board member, with Peter Nicholson, president of Foundation WCPD, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria with Bill Malhotra, founder and CEO of Claridge Homes, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jean-Yves Martineau and Candace Sutcliffe, COO and co-owner of CA Paradise/The Chef's Paradise, with Seema Aurora, president and CEO of TAG HR, and BLG partner and family law lawyer Katherine Cooligan and her husband, Jim Houswerth, at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Donna-Lee MacLean, regional director of major accounts with Rogers Communications, and MJ Brown at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Bruce Raganold, director of business development at Welch LLP and partner at Welch Capital Partners, with his wife, Giselle Bergeron-Raganold at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips

With close to 600 people in attendance, the event helped to raise the profile of a health care facility that was, in the late ‘90s, at risk for closure during the Mike Harris era. It took rallies, lobbying and court battles but the Franco-Ontarian community saved the hospital.

Montfort, which is fully bilingual, has since expanded significantly in size and scope. Today, it provides 20 percent of all health care services in Ottawa and is also a francophone teaching and research hospital.

“Montfort is no longer that little hospital in the east end,” Villeneuve told the room proudly.

The hospital foundation was behind the fundraising for the brand new $88-million Orléans Health Hub, which puts bilingual specialized and community-based care for people in the east end under one roof. As well, the hospital recently announced a new partnership with Wabano Centre, with the goal of improving health care for the region’s Indigenous population.

As for Dr. Gandhi, he attended the Infinity Cares Gala with friends, family and, of course, his new bride, Neeru. “For me, it’s so refreshing to see the Indo-Canadian community embracing the francophone hospital,” said Gandhi, who also has a background in business. “Personally, I think that’s a huge step forward to sort of bridge that gap. I don’t think there’s ever been an Indian event where they’re speaking French. So, it’s pretty nice that way.”

Infinity, which first opened its doors in 2016, has supported through its annual galas the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Bruyère and The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. The gala didn’t take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entertainment featured a Toronto-based dance troupe that delivered spectacular Indian hip-hop performances.

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Clifford Lebarron, assistant vice president with Laurentian Bank, and Ann Lebarron at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Lalit Aggarwal, president of Manor Park Holdings, with CBRE vice president Christos Panagiotakos at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, TAG HR chief operating officer and Ottawa Board of Trade co-vice chair Priya Bhaloo, with guest Warren Creates, head of the immigration law group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, and TAG HR president and CEO Seema Aurora at the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier, at the podium during the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Lalit Aggarwal, president of Manor Park Holdings, welcomes close to 600 guests to the Infinity Cares Gala held Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, for Montfort Hospital. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Montfort Foundation was the recipient of the gift of $100,000 from the Infinity Cares Gala held at Infinity Convention Centre on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Infinity Cares Gala featured captivating Indian hip-hop dance performances throughout the night. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Infinity Cares Gala featured captivating Indian hip-hop dance performances throughout the night. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca