Manuel Rodriguez

Country of Origin:

El Salvador

Themes:

Citizenship, Immigration, Human Rights & Social Justice, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada, Refugee Experiences

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Bio

Manuel served as a civil servant for the Government of Ontario for over 10 years in the area of technology. Seeking more creative opportunities, he left his government position to create his own company. As one of the founders of Unikron Inc., Manuel has directed the technological vision of the company. Unikron helps companies use live event, video production and web-casting in innovative ways.

Manuel’s belief in always acquiring knowledge and working collaboratively has served as a key component of Unikron's client work. His understanding of business strategy, communications and viewer experience has resulted in successful video production for companies such as Bombardier, CIBC, and Google.

For the last 20 years, Manuel Rodriguez has been no stranger to the Hispanic business community and the Salvadoran community. He is a familiar face and a respected leader, as ex-Vice-president and founder of HispanoTech and, presently, as President of the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

He volunteers as a mentor for Culturelink, and ACCESS programs. He is also a member of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supply Council (CAMSC), Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (THCC), and the Diversity Business Network (DBN).

Manuel received the 2013 Bob Marley Humanitarian Award from DBN and the City of Toronto. The Diversity Business Network and The Toronto Bob Marley Committee annually awards selected individuals who exemplify the qualities and spirit of the legendary musician and artist through their actions in the community. You can read more about Manuel on his personal website: www.manuelrodriguez.com

Story

December 1989: that last month in El Salvador changed my life more than I ever expected. That was the month that the 10 year old civil war conflict finally spread to the capital city of San Salvado where I was studying computer science at the Central American University (UCA). Two of my Jesuit professors and the dean of the university were assassinated. Bilateral agreements between Canada and El Salvador were suspended that month. My family was moved out of El Salvador thanks to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and we arrived at Pearson airport in Toronto as refugees with one piece of luggage each and a very limited knowledge of English. That December 21, 1989 was a freezing night. With no winter coats, no one expected minus 21 degrees as the door opened, chilling our faces. I could have been paralyzed by those events; rather, something inside drove me forward with renewed strength. I would not give up. I have a lot of gratitude for this country but I also did not arrive empty-handed. My culture, my education, and my sensibility were powerful tools that I had brought with me. From that day on, I would add to these tools everything I could learn from Canada, and become an even better person.