Previous ACE Awards

2016 ACE Awards Program

Check out moments from last year’s Award Gala.

ACE Awards Gala 2016 “Celebrating Our Own“

2016 ACE Award Recipients Share Their Experiences

Check out Gerjon video where he shares his thoughts on the importance of ACE awards and how that lead to him meeting amazing people and attending great social events. He invites the community to nominate and to be part of a long-term commitment with ACE. Gerjon continues to support ACE and we will see more of him at this year’s Gala as he takes on a new function, Chair of nomination awards.

Listen to Eliott’s message on the importance of community involvement as a good avenue for people to stand up and fight for matters that are important to them and their communities. Ever since he received the award, he has been more involved with ACE and Albanian- Canadians. The award has helped him to promote his book and to spread powerful messages about the stories of Kosovo Albanians during the war in 1998-1999.

Listen to Melina message as she speaks to the importance of equally embracing both cultures and their values. Melina believes that each of us has unique talent and gifting, but it is everyone’s job to cultivate them and in return use them to make our community a better one. Since last year, Melina has been more involved with ACE, she has had the pleasure to have met many Albanian-Canadians who are gifted, passionate, yet genuine and who strive to make a perfect effort on everything they do. 

Endrit, winner of the 2016 ACE Community Achievement Award shares how the nomination came very unexpectedly but it also gave him the reassurance that the work he does in the Albanian Canadian community is valued and appreciated. He believes that it is important to value and celebrate each other for their contributions and achievements. Find out why he believes this is important to him and the community at large.

Jim Beqaj
Jim is well known and respected in Canada's financial landscape. In fact, he is a staple name on Bay Street Toronto. Jim Beqaj began his career in the 70s in the investment banking firm Wood Gundy. He rose quickly through the ranks and in 1992, at the age of thirty-seven, became President of CIBC Wood Gundy. He led the integration with CIBC and the expansion from Canada into the U.S. in the 90s. After being an executive for many years in Canada's top financial institutions in Toronto and New York, he decided to open Beqaj International to redirect companies on a successful path for future development through hiring people that are the right fit. Throughout his career he has personally hired over 900 people and helped hundreds of companies find and hire the right employees.

Jim Beqaj – 2016 ACE Entrepreneurship Achievement Award

Melina Dulluku
Melina is an Albanian-Canadian artist in the Toronto area which has shown tremendous passion and determination in using her leadership and musical gifting to inspire and help make our world a better place. Melina’s work include her debut album, Tuned and her two singles, Letting Go and My Whole Life Changed. Melina continues to evolve hers sound and work on new original music content. Melina’s passion and determination have set her on a solid path of pursuing her dreams as a singer-song writer who seeks to point people to God and inspire them to reach their full human potential.

Melina Dulluku – 2016 ACE Young Artist Achievement Award

Hytbi Tarelli
Hytbi has shown the first signs of his talent since he was 6 years old, drawing with coal on the walls of his house granary in the heart of the Devollvalley. He is proud of his origin. Hytbi’s passion for art was grew with him, and in 1968 he won the competition to continue the art high school in Tirana, but because his family’s biography the government did not allow him to go to pursue his dream, but he did not give up, he continued to work hard as an autodidact. There are three crucial things he says: “Love art, live with art and most and foremost sacrifice for the sake of art.” During his years in Canada, he has worked on many Albanian themes. The “Mother Teresa” bas-relief was finalized in 2006 and decorates the facade of the school that bears her name in Markham, Ontario.

Hytbi Tarelli – 2016 ACE Artist Achievement Award

Edor Kabashi
Edor has made a number of discoveries in the field of health research, in particular advancing the state of art of knowledge for neurodegenerative diseases. He has worked very hard to integrate the discoveries in patient tissue to understanding the mechanisms that cause these diseases. To accomplish this objective, Dr. Kabashi has developed animal models that can accurately mimic the genetic deficiency in ALS and the pathological features for this disease. Dr. Kabashi has been spreading awareness about this disease discussing his findings in most of the major Canadian, Albanian, French and international news sources, including (Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Metro, CBC, Journal de Montreal, Radio Canada, and all the Albanian newspapers) and has featured in several Television programs.

Edor Kabashi – 2016 ACE Academic Achievement Award

Muharrem Xhaferri
A well-known individual, Muharrem has made a significant impact in our community and the lives of many volunteers, leading by example. Through his inspirational vision and the help of many great volunteers he has made the Albanian community well known not only in Toronto where he resides but in all of Canada. Throughout this journey, he has influenced, educated and motivated many of his volunteers and has paved the path for their many personal achievements in the Canadian community. Muharrem urges that together we continue his starting efforts and build a community of which we’d be proud to be part of.

Muharrem Xhaferri – 2016 ACE Community Achievement Award

Gerjon Kalaci
Gerjon is an accomplished entrepreneur, professional and community activist.  Graduated from the University of Windsor with a combined Law and MBA degree after having previously completed a Bachelor of Sciences.   His volunteer work has been recognized continuously through a variety of awards and honours. At 25 years old – Gerjon was the first-ever recipient of the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award in the youth category from the Government of Canada.  Since in his early twenties , due to his passion for giving back to community, he has served as a member on a number of university and community-based committees and boards of directors; founded various not-for-profit initiatives and international projects.   Gerjon has co founded Alexa Translations which is a premier translations and interpretations provider with capabilities to work in over 110 languages and/or dialects.

Gerjon Kalaci – 2016 ACE Young Professional Achievement Award

Marisa Deluca
Marisa has been working as employment consultant for more than 16 years. It was the time when hundreds of Albanian started to emigrate in many countries including Canada.  Impressed by Albanians, their desire to find themselves contributing in their field of education and expertise, Marisa worked with high passion using all her possible connections to ensure Albanians and others were engaged in Canadian life. Working as employment consultant for COSTI, Marisa is striving for excellence by fulfilling COSTI’s goal to meet the changing needs of a diverse ethno-cultural community while encouraging the full growth and development of its clients and staff. Her contributions, support and kindness have made a significant impact in Albanian- Canadian community.

Marisa DeLuca – 2016 ACE Contribution to Albanian Community Achievement Award

Everest Damsi
Everest is an Executive Director in the Transportation Industry and has unique experience and exposure in engineering, operations, customer service and continuous improvements. He has proven ability to lead, motivate and train multi-cultural teams in different countries. Highly motivated and energetic professional. Visionary leader with excellent analytic and problem solving skills.   Everest has worked in some of biggest International Railway Projects in Germany, Finland, Switzerland and England. In the last ten years he has invented and developed new products in Transportation. FASTRAK Sliding Tarp system is the most requested system in Canada and USA. Inventor of numerous patents successfully implemented in Transportation.

Everest Damsi – 2016 ACE Professional Achievement Award

Endrit Mullisi
Endrit has committed his life to increase the awareness of Albanians to be awaken on the need for spiritual health and spiritual community. Having initially a background in Science, he teaches the Bible to every generation believing that it has practical implication in the life of the individual, closer family and wider community. He started the first Albanian Evangelical Church in Canada based on the need for Albanians in diaspora to be engaged and involved in faith-based communities. He believes that when we address the poverty of the soul we can eradicate many of the problems we have in society today. Awarding a spiritual individual for his contribution, supports the balancing of our appreciation fr those who work in science, in business and in human sciences.

Endrit Mullisi – 2016 ACE Community Achievement Award

Eliott Behar
Eliott Behar grew up in Toronto, where a long-standing interest in justice and human rights led him to a career as a Crown prosecutor. In 2008, he became a war crimes prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, based in The Hague, where he prosecuted the mass killings and deportations that took place in Kosovo in 1999. These cases, which came to a close in 2014, exposed a secret campaign to hide terrible crimes by transporting and concealing the bodies of the dead.  The experience of the trial led him to write his first book, Tell It To The World, which tells the true story of what took place in Kosovo, and reflects on mass violence and the importance and value of the justice process.

Eliott Behar – 2016 ACE Contribution To Albanian Community Achievement Award

Blerina Hoxha
Blerina is an young leader but has a lot of virtues of the wise experienced leaders. She is a continuous learner and a great example of a person that is passionate about improving life and always finding positive attitude even in difficult times.  She is currently Director of IT at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, one of the most vibrant organizations in Toronto. On top of her role as a leader and supporter of a team of IT specialists, she also contributes on different events and fundraising that MLSE runs during the year in benefit of the community. On the last two years, Blerina has been one of the volunteers to build new schools in Jamaica for 160 students, as well as help with "Food for the Poor" program.

Blerina Hoxha – 2016 ACE Professional Achievement Award

Endri Gjiri
Endri Gjiri is a talented technology leader and software engineer. Endri has contributed to the success of Toronto's tech scene with impactful work at Xtreme Labs, Pivotal Labs, Quandl, and In 2015, Endri Gjiri was named Chief Technology Officer of Zoocasa Realty Inc. Endri oversees Zoocasa's industry-leading real estate marketplace and uses the latest technologies to empower Canadians with data, inspiration and knowledge for a smarter, faster, home search.  Endri earned a Masters of Science Degree at York University, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto. During his time as a Graduate student and Teaching Assistant at York University, Endri created to help students around the world have an easy to use and comprehensive science resource. 

Endri Gjiri – 2016 ACE Young Professional Achievement Award