Fakih was recognized for his “community leadership and charitable involvement.
The new inductees into the Order of Canada for 2021 include Mississauga’s most famous and well-respected business people.
Mohamad Fakih, Chief Executive Officer at Paramount Fine Foods, was one of the 135 Canadians given the nation’s most prestigious civilian honors for “his community and business leadership and philanthropic engagement in his community as well as internationally.”
The Lebanese Canadian entrepreneur is the person behind the rapidly growing Middle Eastern halal restaurant food chain, Paramount Fine Foods, that began with just one restaurant on Dixie and Eglinton in 2007 and expanded to more than 70 locations all over Canada as well as Canada, the U.K. along with the U.S.
In a video posted via the Paramount website, Fakih recalls landing in Canada in 1999 as an immigrant who had only a tiny amount of money and working for a long time.
He recalls his visit to the first Paramount bakery to buy Baklava and then to find out that the company was in trouble and that the proprietor as well as his 35 employees will soon be out of work and could lose their immigration status.
“He requested $250,000 for a loan. It was an enticing request, and even though I didn’t understand anything about the business of food, I knew that all cultures break bread with each other,” said Fakih.
Paramount brand. Fakih loaned the money to the owner. Together they set off on their process of building Paramount.
As his business expanded, Fakih never stopped assisting the Mississauga community and the surrounding areas.
Following the deadly 2017 Quebec mosque massacre, in which 6 Muslim citizens were murdered, Fakih helped raise $125,000 to cover funeral expenses and repairs to the mosque.
In 2016 Fakih was among the numerous advocates for companies to employ refugees following the arrival of 25,000 Syrians were brought to Canada. Fakih himself has used hundreds of refugees.
In the days leading up to March 2020, when the COVID-19 virus first appeared in the spotlight, Fakih and other community leaders from Mississauga started a roundtable of the community soliciting the support of Chinese businesses and restaurants amid many instances of anti-Asian hatred.
In April of 2020, Fakih said he’d be matching one dollar, up to $10,000 per donation for the Mississauga Food Bank, which was at the time in need of $840,000 to stock its shelves.
He was also one of the aid workers who made their way towards Beirut at the end of 2020, following the port explosion in Beirut and participating in the ongoing aid efforts.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was one of the numerous local leaders and politicians who tweeted their congratulations to Fakih after his appointment. Bonnie Crombie tweeted that Fakih is a “shining model of what can be accomplished when you put your efforts into it and place your community first, and defend against injustice and discrimination.”
In a post on his Twitter account, expressing his appreciation for the recognition, Fakih said it was one of his top three moments that he would cherish and remember for the rest of his life.
“I love you, Canada. For those who are immigrants, Canada is God’s heaven on earth. Let’s make sure that it stays as it is and ensure that we safeguard the Canadian dream. Thank you for all your help,” he said.