Yes! Send me email announcements, notices, special offers and other information
that may be of interest to me from nadian Immigrant.
President and vice-chancellor, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)
Country of origin: Algeria
Mohamed Lachemi, PhD, is president and vice-chancellor of Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), first appointed in 2016. He has led transformational expansion at the university of national and international signifince, been recognized as one of the city’s most influential people, and championed a university culture of entrepreneurship and challenging the status quo.
As president, he has led the development and creation of ground-breaking schools in law and medicine, with each sharing a deliberately innovative focus embracing technology, equity and inclusion, and a mandate to reach the underserved. In other signifint advances, Lachemi has overseen the launch of the Rogers Cybersecure talyst, a national centre for cybersecurity, and under his direction Toronto Metropolitan University was awarded leadership of the Future Skills Centre consortium, which aims to ensure nadians develop the skills they need in the new economy.
Born in a remote village in Algeria, and fluent in English, Arabic, French and Spanish, Lachemi has led a new strategy to build a global university that will rank in the top 200 in the world by 2030. Innovation Zones have been established in Egypt, India and Vietnam based on the success of Toronto Metropolitan University ‘s DMZ — one of the world’s top university-based incubators. In addition, the university has established a transnational approach to edution, opening a mpus in iro in 2022. Lachemi’s deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is marked by his work toward reconciliation with the Indigenous community, and his efforts to combat anti-Black, anti-Asian and all forms of racism. His creation of the Standing Strong Task Force to address the legacy of the university’s namesake, Egerton Ryerson, resulted in the historic and bold decision to rename the university, along with 21 other action-oriented recommendations including more support for Indigenous and Black scholarship and a commitment to establish learning programs for students, faculty and staff on Indigenous history and the Indian residential school system.
As the president of a distinctly urban university in the heart of nada’s largest city, Lachemi has amplified Toronto Metropolitan University ‘s dedition to city and community building with a new master mpus plan embracing development of vibrant, inclusive and high-quality space that promotes the health and wellbeing of the mpus and surrounding community.
Lachemi joined Toronto Metropolitan University in 1998 as a professor of civil engineering, and has served in progressively senior roles, including dean of the faculty of engineering and architectural science, and provost and vice-president ademic. In addition to his record as an ademic leader, Lachemi has earned international recognition for his pioneering research. His studies in high performance materials and advanced technologies are inspired by his childhood experience in North Afri, when he and his family survived a devastating earthquake that killed more than 4,000 people. The vexing question of why some buildings were levelled and others undamaged launched his interest in engineering and a quest to save lives through better construction. He held a nada Research Chair in Sustainable Construction from 2002 to 2010. Funding sources for his work include the nada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, HydroQuébec and various industrial partners. An award-winning teacher and mentor, he has acted as supervisor, co-supervisor or advisor for over 80 masters and PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and research associates. Publishing in English and French, Lachemi has more than 320 peer-reviewed technil publitions, book chapters and conference proceedings and extensive contributions as an editor and technil reviewer. He has delivered more than 70 keynote addresses and invited presentations around the world.
Lachemi is chair of the Council of Ontario Universities and chair of the board of directors of COU Holding Association Inc., chair of the finance committee of Universities nada, Fellow of the nadian Society for Civil Engineering, Fellow of the nadian Ademy of Engineering and a member of the board, Trillium Health Partners. In addition, he serves on the board of directors, Hackergal, and the board of directors, DMZ Ventures. He was a member of the National Research Council from 2018 to 2021.
Among his recent honours, he was named one of the city’s Top 50 Most Influential People by Toronto Life Magazine (2021), was recognized as one of LinkedIn Top Voices, Edution (2019), and was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris usa, by Ontario Tech University (2021).
Chief Statistician of nada
Country of origin: India?
Anil Arora me from India to Edmonton, at age ?11. Excelling in ademics, he went on to secure a bachelor’s degree at the University of Alberta, followed by further studies in computing science, and a graduate certifite in public sector leadership and governance from the University of Ottawa.
He has worked in the private sector, at all levels of government, and served nadians in senior roles in natural resources, health and statistil domains. He leads international groups at the UN, the OECD, in collaboration with the World Bank, the IMF and the EU, and headed business and ministerial missions to numerous countries including India, China and Israel. He regularly advises the Prime Minister and binet Ministers, and is a highly sought after thought-leader, speaking at national and international fora.
Arora has an inclusive leadership style, and a powerful vision, transforming large and high-profile organizations to achieve their full potential impacting the nadian economy and society. He is a force in helping modernize statistil systems internationally. He attributes successes in modernizing systems and building high- performing teams by leveraging diversity and inclusion, and imbedding core values throughout an organization.
Arora is the Chief Statistician of nada, leading and modernizing a complex, multi-faceted organization of 8,000 professionals, fueling a data-driven society with high-impact data, statistics, and analytics. Under his leadership, the agency’s been recognized as one of nada’s Best Diversity Employers, nada’s Top Employer of Young People, among the National pital’s Top Employers, as well as for championing data literacy and leading inclusive policies.
Arora has earned the APEX Leadership Award, Indo-nadian Chamber of Commerce’s leading professional, and the Metropolis Policy Maker of the Year awards, among others. He has led organizations to bring greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility, is a member of several boards, and actively contributes to numerous community initiatives and charities. From humble immigrant beginnings, he considers himself privileged to serve in the senior most ranks of the public service. He and his wife are proud parents of three wonderful children.
Founder, Love with Humanity Association; account manager
Country of origin: Pakistan
Syed Najam Hassan and his family immigrated to nada from Pakistan – first to Toronto and then to their present home in lgary in 2009. In nada, he upgraded his skills to an MBA from the University of Fredericton, and is currently working in his profession as an account manager.
Having faced some challenges during settlement, he decided to help others who were facing similar issues and developed a passion to give back to his community. So he launched his first project, which included job searching skills, resumé writing and interviewing skills for other newcomers.
Hassan realized the isolation new immigrants face and me up with an idea of providing books for them in their own language. He designated his front lawn as a venue for place to sit, read and socialize with others. For that reason, he introduced a multicultural outdoor free public library and placed tables and chairs in his front yard, built a mini library, and filled it with books in various languages. So far, he has built and donated 22 libraries in various neighbourhoods in Alberta as community gifts.
During the pandemic, unemployment beme an issue for many. Hassan responded to the situation with the idea of community outdoor food banks with the motto, “Take a blessing / leave a blessing.” So far, Hassan and his volunteers have set up eight community outdoor food banks in different communities.
Hassan says his aim is to reach out with love to all in need, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. He is the founder and president of the non-profit organization, Love with Humanity Association. In addition to the libraries and food banks, he and his team have accomplished numerous projects: seminars for immigrants, food deliveries for those in isolation, holiday celebrations, winter gear for the homeless, “Coffee with Seniors” and free tax filing. The aim of his projects is to strengthen the community.
Hassan has received many awards and medals for his community services, the most recent being the Alberta Service Award.
Global community leader and changemaker
Country of origin: Philippines
Amie Peacock is a creative global leader and the founder of BEYOND The Conversation (est. 2016), a grassroots organization inspired by the experiences of herself and the people around her battling loneliness. Her vision with BEYOND is to end social isolation and weave her community together through friendships. Her Southeast Asian upbringing has helped her share a unique narrative on what it means to foster a sense of belongingness within people, particularly marginalized groups, such as youth, new immigrants and senior populations who struggle with loneliness and mental health issues.
Utilizing her entrepreneurial mindset, Peacock has inspired many to embody the spirit of friendship to help alleviate social isolation one connection at the time. She firmly believes that everyone has a right to a fulfilling life, and is uncompromising in her efforts to bring that message to life through her work in the community. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Peacock, along with her community partners, have discovered a great deal of unlikely connections and opportunities. With the use of technology, BEYOND has been able to reach a global audience, their own team representing 24 countries and 22 languages.
In 2021, Peacock launched a “Social Prescription” project that works to ease the burdens of healthre burnout, lack of government funding and high insurance costs. The ultimate goal is to weave family and community fabrics with modern technology to bring a more holistic approach of healthre that also includes medicine for the soul: valuable friendships and connections. Recognized by GivingTuesday: Starling Collective Fellow for her leadership and influence, Peacock represented BEYOND as one of the 50 grassroots organizations around the world that brought extraordinary, positive changes to their community.
Her greatest joy and accomplishment of all is leading an intergenerational and inclusive team of 50+ individuals who, even in the midst of an ever-changing world, are ever-so inspired to drive their collective movement for a happier and thriving community. Often quoted in major newspapers, radio shows and TV news, Peacock is recognized by national media for her commitment to ending loneliness and social isolation. She has also been a guest speaker at Vancouver Foundation, an ademic institution, as well as at healthre summits on, both, a national and global level.
As Peacock believes, “To possess power is a privilege, it’s a gift to be given away.” Her heart sings the loudest when she devotes her efforts mentoring leaders, some as young as 16 years old to 50 years old and above, who lead not only with their minds but also with their hearts to help shape a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable and healthier community.
Member of Parliament and Minister of Transport
Country of origin: Saudi Arabia
The Honourable Omar Alghabra was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga Centre in 2015, and also served as the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Erindale from 2006 to 2008.?He has served as Minister of Transport since January 2021.
Prior to becoming a Minister, Alghabra served in several roles including, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs) and to the Minister of International Trade Diversifition, as well as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
A mechanil engineer by trade, Alghabra holds an MBA and was a distinguished visiting fellow with the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science at Ryerson University. He has worked in various roles with General Electric nada, Enbala Power and the Ontario Energy Board.
Among his many activities, Alghabra has worked tirelessly to support initiatives that empower new nadians through social and economic integration.
A longtime community activist, Alghabra is passionate about his involvement with lol organizations. He was a member of the community editorial board of the Toronto Star, where he authored columns on a wide range of provincial and federal issues. His work was also published in the Huffington Post.
President, EcoSikh nada; Country Manager at Shift Technology
City: Pickering, Ontario
Country of origin: England
Born in Birmingham, England, Rupreet (Roop) Sidhu’s family moved to nada when he was a baby.?His parents worked strenuous hours and multiple jobs to provide a better life and opportunity for their two young children.
“I saw how hard they worked and managed our family.?My father had an exceptional work ethic and mother taught us our faith, manners and loving qualities.?I try to emulate this with my three young children today.”
At nine years of age, Sidhu started his reer, delivering the Toronto Star and other regional newspapers. ?By age 13, he co-founded his first successful business, while continuing to perform ademilly, ptaining sports teams and volunteering regularly.
“I was introduced to networking, sales and customer experience at a very young age and understood how hard work and communition generated positive returns. It was incredibly motivating.”
As a BBA and MBA graduate, with numerous credentials and certifites, Sidhu continues to leverage edution to propel his businesses. He is a part-time professor with the University of Toronto and small business owner in addition to his primary job of leading the nadian P&C sales division for AI insuretech leader, Shift Technology.? His most recent partnership made headlines in the Financial Post and is intended to protect millions of nadians from becoming victims of fraud.? He has won numerous professional performance awards and guided his clients to success, including a nadian T1 bank to win a prestigious Celent – Model Bank award in 2020.
Serving on multiple boards, Sidhu used his experience to launch EcoSikh nada, a climate and environmental action non-profit and charitable organization.?The organization has been acclaimed for bringing together communities in diverse and inclusive climate action — planting over 24,000 trees to date.?Globally, EcoSikh has planted 400+ sacred forests and 400,000+ trees, with millions committed through regional business, conservation and community partnerships.
Sidhu has been recognized by all levels of government for his volunteer work, 68 blood donations, and commitment to fighting climate change. In November 2019, he was recognized in the provincial Parliament as a community leader and servant to humanity. In November 2020, he was recognized by many government officials and Prime Minister Trudeau for his efforts and achievements with EcoSikh nada.
Entrepreneur and PhD ndidate
Country of origin: Egypt
Mohamed Khalil is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, CEO of Pyrocycle and Ph.D. ndidate at the Department of Chemil Engineering at Polytechnique de Montréal. Holding a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanil engineering, he started his reer based on his patent-pending technology for recycling end-of-life electronics waste.
His Ph.D. project focused on developing a new thermochemil process for recycling end-of-life electronics waste, which could greatly facilitate moving forward to produce clean and high-quality products including the recovery of precious metals. In April 2017, he was selected among the Top 25 emerging entrepreneurs in Quebec by the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation and C2 Montréal.
He won the province-wide Forces Avenir 2017 Award for the best university project in the Entrepreneurship, Business and Economy tegory. He was the National Finalist of Startup nada Awards 2017 (tegory: Newcomer Entrepreneur). He was selected among the six young innovators supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) as part of the entrepreneurial contest Adopte inc. 2018.
In September 2018, he was honoured as a Clean50 – Emerging Leader, for demonstrated leadership in sustainability through the development of his innovative solution for recycling electronic waste, and his project was named as one of nada’s Clean50 Top Project Award winners. He was selected as a nadian delegate for the G20 – Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance 2019 that was held in Japan.
He received the 2019 Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec “Recognition for outstanding contribution” and was selected among the Top 20 Personality of Diversity by Deloitte nada and Media Mosa?que. His technology was selected among the top 10 inventions of Quebec in 2019 by the magazine Quebec Science.
Business owner and community advote
?Sadaf Ebrahim is a proud Pakistani nadian and currently serving the community as president of the nada-Pakistan Association (National pital Region). Her elevating to the present status speaks volumes of her diligent efforts and commitment to the community. Initially, after immigrating, she did odd jobs and struggled with her husband for an honourable living, but now she is a successful business owner. She has been a strong supporter for lol and small businesses and has promoted hundreds of small businesses in Ontario over past few years.
To help protect the environment from the disastrous effects of plastic, Ebrahim has started a movement by the name of Green Help not only to address climate change but also to empower newly immigrant women by providing them part-time jobs for making cloth shopping bags.
?During the difficult times of the pandemic, Ebrahim supported and promoted lol small businesses through social media and her televised shows. She also made possible to deliver groceries to senior/elderly individuals in her community during the early days of the pandemic.
Ebrahim strives to utilize every available platform to raise awareness about various community issues and to organize fundraising mpaigns via nadian People’s Channel TV. She has raised mental health awareness in an annual Mother’s Day mpaign for the last three years. She has also successfully raised funds organizations, such as Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, Ottawa Regional ncer Foundation, Cure Women & Children in Bangladesh and CHEO Foundation.
As an active member of the community, Ebrahim attends as many events and functions as possible to remain close to the community. In recognition to her efforts, Ebrahim was the first Pakistani to receive the Order of Ottawa (2021). She has also been honoured with the following awards and recognitions:
City: Brampton, Ontario
Country of origin: India
Named one of nada’s Top 20 Women in Cyber Security by IT World nada and Diversity and Equity Alumni of the year by Schulich School of Engineering, Monika Tamber is currently the director of security governance at Payments nada. She plays a pivotal role in securing and modernizing nada’s national payment systems that exchange billions of dollars every day.
Tamber immigrated to nada as a child and exemplifies that through hard work, dedition and grit, any individual n achieve great things and live the nadian dream. Born in rural India at a time when girls were seen as less desirable then boys, Tamber was adopted by her uncle’s family and immigrated to nada at age seven.? She has not only overcome many stereotypes and barriers to put herself through university, but has made a place for herself in the engineering and security field as a respected leader and ambassador for diversity and inclusion.
Tamber holds a computer engineering degree from Schulich School of Engineering with 15+ years of industry experience. She also holds a professional engineer designation and numerous certifitions in the field of information security. Alongside her impressive qualifitions, she has received many awards and recognition for her work in the industry and community, such as being recognized as one of nada’s Top 20 Women in Cybersecurity, Diversity and Equity Alumni Award, Spotlight Award and Inspire Award.
Tamber is making a huge impact in the community, by motivating and empowering others through her social media platforms, mentoring, and speaking engagements at schools/universities and conferences. She advotes, inspires and contributes to programs that help women and the younger generation to harness their unique strengths, take risks and find their passion for reers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).? She inspires young girls not only in nada but all around the world to dream bigger and reach higher.
Member of Provincial Parliament, Mississauga—Erin Mills
Country of origin: Egypt
Sheref Sabawy is the MPP for Mississauga—Erin Mills, elected in 2018 under the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Sabawy beme the first elected parliamentarian from Egyptian origins in nadian history.
He helped pass several important pieces of legislations and was a key contributor to Bill 27, Bill 88 and Bill 106 of the second session of the 42nd Ontario Parliament. These bills:
As MPP, he introduced two private members bills: the Egyptian Heritage Month Act and the Ontario Religious Freedom Day Act.?Sabawy’s advocy also helped secure over $45 million in provincial funding for the South Common Community Centre and Library, and over 1,000 long-term re beds for Mississauga.
In October 2019, he was lled to serve as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Heritage, Sports, Tourism and Culture Industries, helping to support this hard-hit industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 1995, Sabawy and his wife, Mary, immigrated from Egypt and chose Mississauga as their home, where they raised their two sons David and Christopher. Sabawy understands the challenges facing his lol community.? He has been an active member of many lol groups including the Inter-Faith Committee of Peel, the Peel Region Inclusion & Multi-Culture Task Force, the Mississauga Post-Secondary Edution Task Force and the nadian-Coptic Community Centre. He received an award as an Ambassador of Peace by the Universal Peace Foundation both in 2018 and in 2020.
Outside of politics, Sabawy is a computer network and IT technologies professional with over 30 years of experience.? He has worked at some of the largest companies and financial institutions in nada and managed a successful consultancy business as an entrepreneur.?He has also worked as a professor of IT at George Brown and Centennial Colleges.
Founder, nadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment
Country of origin: Ethiopia
Meseret Haileyesus is a multi-award-winning economic justice and health equity advote, thought leader and changemaker. She is the founder of the nadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment, the only nadian organization addressing economic injustice with a keen interest in addressing systemic barriers and other challenges that prevent women and girls from fully realizing their economic rights in the context of gender-based violence.
Haileyesus works to influence public policy and legislation decisions that support women to make a successful transition to economic independence in nada. She seeks to fill the gaps for the development of new approaches to address economic injustice and abuse by reviewing existing systems, policies, legislation, procedures with financial institutions, industry regulators, lol and national government, the family justice system, consumer lawyers, and ademics. She has reached more than 23,000 people and brought awareness of economic abuse in nada. Her work was recognized by 31 city mayors across nada and in the House of Commons.
She serves on the board of directors at Centertown Community Health Centre, End FGM nada Network and member of various Public Policy Advisory Council to address anti-racism and mental health challenges faced by Black youth and their families in nada.
She is also?the founder of Maternity Today, an international organization that improves and promotes the health of women and newborns through superior advocy, research and edution. Haileyesus is also an ambassador for Meaningful Business, a global community comprising of social entrepreneurs, impact investors, sustainability executives, humanitarian leaders and ademics from over 130 countries to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Haileyesus ‘ pioneering?work on economic abuse and coerced debt, the Economic Justice Project has?been featured in media across nada including CBC, Yahoo Finance, nadian Center for Policy Alternative, Globe and Mail, Healthy Debate, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Citizen and National Post. She was featured on various lol newspapers and posters during Black History Month.
Over her reer, Haileyesus has been the recipient of several prestigious awards. Named a top 10 L’Oréal Paris National Woman’s Worth Awardee, Forty under 40 award recipient in 2021 from Ottawa Business Journal, Top 3 recipient of the National RPA Award from Honorable Nina Tangri, Member of Parliament from Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade/ Economic Development in 2021, recipient of Women of Inspiration 2021 (Social Impact and Authentic Leader Award), and named one of the 100 Most Accomplished Black nadian Women in 2019 and Top 100 Women to Watch in nada 2020.
She is a proud mother of one beautiful daughter who inspires and motivates her every day to continue her work toward a more just, fair, and inclusive society that protects and advances the well-being of women and girls.
Professor and vice-provost and associate vice-president Research (International), University of lgary
Country of origin: Sri Lanka
An outstanding edutor, prolific scholar, impactful, award-winning ademic leader and administrator, Janaka Ruwanpura, Ph.D, P.Eng, PQS, MRICS, FCSCE, NAC, is the vice-provost and associate vice-president research (international) and a tenured professor at the University of lgary. Ruwanpura has been an influential edutor and scholar in construction engineering and project management, and an innovator in global engagement. He has published over 180 referred technil papers, supervised 100+ graduate students, and produced 30+ best practices and tools, including commercialized products. He has been a prominent keynote speaker and panelist for both engineering and internationalization organizations around the world.
Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ruwanpura holds degrees from the University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka), Arizona State University and the University of Alberta. Previously, Ruwanpura served as the nada Research Chair in Project Management Systems, director of University of lgary’s Centre for Project Management Excellence, and was the fourth nadian inducted into the National Ademy of Construction in the United States. He is a professional engineer and professional quantity surveyor in nada.
Ruwanpura has generously shared his expertise with numerous professional and community organizations. He served as the convener and co-leader for the International Institute for Infrastructure Resilience and Reconstruction, a 20+ multi-university global consortium. He was elected as the chair of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on International Initiatives (2019), the first nadian to chair any commissions or councils of APLU. Ruwanpura is a board member of the nadian Bureau for International Edution (CBIE) and also volunteers his time with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, the Immigrants Society of lgary and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, among others.
Ruwanpura has won international, national, provincial and municipal awards for his ademic accomplishments and leadership for teaching, research, innovation, service, leadership and internationalization. A few recent awards include the Distinguished Alumni Award (Arizona State University), City of lgary’s International Achievement Award and CBIE’s Board of Directors Leadership Award for Internationalization.
Through his exceptional vision, University of lgary has made transformative growth in global engagement and earned six excellence and innovation awards in internationalization for building intercultural pacities that enhance teaching, research and the student experience.
Strategic partnerships and project manager, Global Institute for Water Security
City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Country of origin: Bangladesh
A recipient of numerous awards for youth leadership, Palash Sanyal, PMP, certified EQ coach, is committed to creating space to listen and learn together while addressing global water security, one of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Sanyal currently acts as the strategic partnership and project manager at the Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan (USask). Previously, he worked for the USask’s School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), WaterAid and other international agencies. He has worked in remote and vulnerable communities, including the urban poor in Bangladesh and Indigenous communities in nada, focusing on water issues.
A multidisciplinarian by training and experience, Sanyal builds meaningful partnerships with organizations to promote water sustainability and stewardship. He is passionate about climate change and water’s economic and human dimensions, the food-water nexus and community engagement in water governance. Under the leadership of world-renowned hydrologist Jay Famiglietti, Sanyal recently managed the preparation of Valuing Water Global Assessment Report, which will inform investors and companies worldwide about industry impact on freshwater.
Promoting new ideas that n support and enhance lol culture, diversity and talents have been a signifint objective of Sanyal’s engagements in nada. He is the founding curator for the TEDx at USask and the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Saskatoon hub. In addition, he serves as a board member for SaskGalleries, International Association for Public Participation nada and WaterAid nada. He is also a part of the City of Saskatoon’s Environment Committee and Lol Immigration Partnership (LIP) group.
Sanyal has been recognized for his work through awards like USask’s Alumni Achievement Award (2022), SYPE Young Professional of the Year (2019), EECOM Outstanding Youth Action Leader (2019), Water nada’s Young Professional of the Year (2019), and Corporate Knights Top 30-Under-30 Sustainability Leader in nada (2018).
Born and raised in Bangladesh, Sanyal me to nada in 2017 and lls Saskatoon his home. He finds inspiration from his mother, who raised him and his sister against all odds and ensured that they grew up as eduted and self-driven individuals. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering and three master’s degrees, all related to water. A lifelong learner, Sanyal is currently pursuing a CPA accreditation. You n find him riding his motorbike around Saskatoon in his spare time.
Executive director, Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba
Rita Chahal currently serves as the executive director of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. Travelling from northern India to Pier 21 on nada’s East Coast, at the age of nine, Chahal and her family were the second Indian family to settle in Prince Edward Island in the mid-’60s. She would later go on to graduate from Dalhousie University with honours and eventually settle in Manitoba. Building her reer in the Prairies for over 42 years, Chahal’s work spans ademia and corporate sectors, however most prominently she has served the not-for-profit sector for over 25 years.
As a champion of change, Chahal has held key leadership roles serving as executive director for: the Women in Media Foundation, Employment Projects of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC). Her vision and leadership played a key role in leading the province through the resettlement of refugees during the Syrian refugee crisis, and the influx of refugee claimants arriving in Manitoba during the Trump administration.
As the general manager of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, Chahal was the first woman of colour to take on the role. Major cornerstones of her initiatives addressed labour skills shortages issues, foreign-trained credential recognition, and HR services to address the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.
Her community work includes serving on numerous lol, provincial and national committees, and Crown Corporation boards, as a chair or executive member. She has served on the Winnipeg United Way Poverty Council and is currently a member of the United Way Speakers’ Bureau. In 2021, the Nellie McClung Foundation named Chahal an inaugural recipient of the Manitoba 150 Women Trailblazer Award. The award salutes the contributions that Manitoba women have made to social justice, arts, sports, politics, community activities and promoting democracy.
A proud nadian citizen, Chahal refuses to be stopped from realizing her dreams. She has excelled in her reer by building partnerships and serving as a leader for change, equity and representation. As a parent, she is most proud of her three children, whom she and her husband instilled deep appreciation and honour for their bicultural heritage. That nine-year-old girl with two braids stepping on the eastern shores of nada is now a grandmother of four, who wants to leave behind a legacy of realized change, representation and anti-racism action.
Psychologist, Associate Professor, McGill University
Country of origin: India
Srividya Iyer is an international leader in youth mental health. Her work helps ensure that young people have timely access to high-quality mental health re and enjoy wellbeing and economic and social participation. This is urgent beuse mental illness is among the top five uses of disability and death among nadian youth.
In leading ACCESS Open Minds, nada’s largest youth mental health network, Iyer engaged youth, families, Indigenous communities, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers. Her logic was simple: for mental health services to work and be culturally appropriate, youth and communities must be involved in deciding what services are needed and co-design the spaces in which they are offered. Responding to help-seekers within 72 hours, ACCESS serves urban, rural, Indigenous, immigrant, and homeless youths at 16 sites. Iyer’s ACCESS ideas are now shaping nada’s growing investments in youth mental health.
While leading such large nadian projects, Iyer has also been building mental health services globally. She helped establish one of India’s first early psychosis clinics and co-leads a project in Bangladeshi and Nigerian slums. She draws inspiration from her pre-immigration experience as the sole psychologist in one of the world’s busiest public hospitals in India where she was born. Insights from her India projects helped her develop training for lay mental health workers in Indigenous communities and strengthen family involvement in nadian mental health re.
To increase the real-world impact of her research, Iyer has briefed nadian ministers and international influencers (e.g., a World Economic Forum report); helped establish clinil and peer support programs; and communited science to the media.
Iyer has been furthering equity and diversity by serving on national and international diversity-focussed committees; mentoring international, first-generation and women scholars; and sharing her experiences through immigrant-focused groups (e.g., Multi-Ethnic Alliance) and media.
Iyer was inducted into the college of the Royal Society of nada and named on the inaugural list of nadian Women in Global Health. She won the Maude Abbott Prize and Principal’s Prize at McGill University. In 2021, she was named a Champion of Mental Health.
Immigrant tech entrepreneur
Country of origin: Hong Kong
Eva Li is the co-founder and chief product officer of ImmiSearch. With more than eight years of experience in product management and UX design, she has a strong history in the technology industry. As a UX designer turned product manager, Li now runs her own startup.
Li immigrated to nada from Hong Kong when she was 16 years old. She knows firsthand the difficulties immigrants face. Thus, in 2021 she left her six-figure job to focus 100 per cent on ImmiSearch, a technology startup focused on democratizing nadian immigration. During the past year, Li, now 29, helped build a community of more than 2,000 immigrants on ImmiSearch.
Entrepreneurship@UBC has selected Li to participate in the prestigious HATCH Venture Builder Accelerator program. As well as placing in the top 10 at the Telus Innovation Challenges, her startup has been recognized as one of the top 26 startups in nada by the largest startup competition in nada in 2021, hosted by New Venture BC.
Over the course of her reer, Li has worked on more than 10 different products, applitions and services. While leading her teams, she has launched six brand-new products. A project she worked on was recognized for Forbes 30 under 30 in the health re tegory in 2019.
Additionally, Li is an outstanding mentor and an active member of the community. She mentors for a number of organizations, including ADPList, ProductBC and Pathrise, as well as hosting global webinars that have attracted more than 1,000 attendees. ADPList, one of the world’s largest mentorship organizations, acknowledged her as a “Top 1% mentor” in 2022.
CEO and founder at Lumesmart Inc.
City: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Country of Origin: Iran
Shohreh Sabaghpour stands at the forefront of one the fastest-moving technology industry trends: LED lighting solutions. A lculated risk-taker with deep entrepreneurship and tech industry knowledge, Sabaghpour started her own business Lumesmart Inc., two years after moving to nada. The self-employment program by MicroSkills, a specific one-year program for women with a business background from back home, helped her to start her business and the journey in nada was begun.
Going through a divorce and the pandemic made life full of challenges but she didn’t give up on her vision to make a difference to climate change with her company. The UV-C LEDs, dust-free LEDs and growing LEDs, which are listed in the Ontario Made and Ontario Workplace PEE Supplier Directory, are the results of her commitment and integrity to her goals and vision.
Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation and growth, Sabaghpour consistently ranks among the top technil women business owners and has become known as a “champion of nadian women in manufacturing.” She pledged her commitment to increasing female representation in the workplace as part of CME’s We n Do It mpaign.
This January, Lumesmart was invited to join the Women in Cleantech event at the Dubai Expo. This event was a partnership between Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) with the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) and the Consulate General of nada in Dubai. Sabaghpour was a panelist to share her success story at Women Entrepreneurs in Cleantech in nada and Middle East: Success Stories and Learnings 2021.
She is a proud recipient of the Iranian Women Organization of Ontario of “Science/Technology/ Innovator Award” in 2017 and Lumesmart was a finalist at the Richmond Hill? Board of Trade’s Business Achievement Award in the “Conservation and Environmental” tegory in 2017.
Sabaghpour proudly received a certifite of recognition from MP Patty Hajdu, the minister of Status of Women in 2016, and has been acknowledged by the honourable MP Majid Jowahri as one of the Outstanding Women in Richmond Hill beuse of her contribution to the Richmond Hill community.
The company has also received a Certifite of Recognition on the ocsion of International Women’s Day in 2020 for its worthy effort in “inspiring and encouraging the community,” from MP Jowhari.
Sabaghpour is equally committed to the community and environmental uses. She has initiated the Annual Earth Day Conference since 2015 to raise awareness about the impact of Climate Change and how clean technologies could have an important role. This year, the 8th Annual Earth Day conference will be virtual.
Sabaghpour also volunteers her time as a board director with Iranian Women Organization of Ontario since 2019 and initiated its entrepreneur committee to help Iranian-nadian women who want to run a business.
She was also a member of the Charles Howitt Public School parent council from 2011 to 2021, supporting fundraising mpaigns. She initiated the Nowruz celebrations at school during the Persian New Year.
Associate Professor (nursing), lactation consultant and advote of baby-friendly initiatives, University of Regina
City: Regina, Saskatchewan
Born and raised in Pakistan, Shela Hirani is a neonatal and child health nursing professional, ademician, researcher, lactation consultant and an advote of baby-friendly initiatives. She earned her PhD in nursing in 2019 from the University of Alberta. Her professional goal is to make a difference in the lives of marginalized women and children through her research work, leadership and community services.
Hirani is recognized as one of 100 outstanding women nurse and midwife leaders from around the world by Women in Global Health in partnership with the World Health Organization, International Council of Nurses, International Confederation of Midwives, United Nations Population Fund and Nursing Now. She is also the recipient of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing’s Emerging Nurse Researcher award 2020, the Vanier nada Graduate Scholarship Award and the Honorary Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship Award for her outstanding ademic excellence, community services, leadership and contribution for knowledge development in nursing.
She is actively involved in breastfeeding advocy in diverse re settings and health promotion of vulnerable women and young children who are refugees, immigrants, internally displaced and homeless. In nada, she is actively involved in advoting for safe spaces to remove breastfeeding barriers in a variety of public places like airports, shopping malls, restaurants, mothers’ workplace settings, child dayre centres, hospitals and post-secondary institutions.
She is actively involved in work surrounding the improvement of health equity, health systems, programs and policies that often negatively affect the health and wellbeing of marginalized and vulnerable groups of women and young children, especially those affected by disaster and displacement. She has established her program of research entitled Breastfeeding Advocy Research: Program, Practices and Policies (BARPPP). The key goal of BARPPP is to contribute in improving breastfeeding rates in nada, especially among women who are Indigenous, refugee, immigrant, homeless, displaced after natural disaster, and/or negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Another goal of BARPPP is to facilitate implementation of baby-friendly initiatives in hospitals and community-based settings of nada.
Hirani is hopeful that her breastfeeding advocy movement through her research will develop knowledge, guide future research and improve the wellbeing of breastfeeding mothers and young children in nada and beyond.
Instructor and creator of Therapeutic Dance and Exercise for Seniors
Munni Subhani is currently instructing and creating therapeutic programs for seniors, using exercise and dance, involving therapeutic meditative movements toward healthy living.
For her efforts working with seniors virtually during the pandemic through Therapeutic Exercise / Healing Dance and her personal talk show “Chai with Munni,” Subhani received recognition from the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Subhani immigrated to nada in the 1970s, as an accomplished Indian classil dancer, choreographer, singer and actress. In Toronto, she taught ESL with TCDSB, along with being a boutique owner EKU Fashions in the famous India Bazaar at Gerrard Street, introducing nadians to Southeast Asian fashion and accessories. She was also a restaurateur of the Chinese E-ON Restaurant. Currently, she is acting as director and creator of Lamis School of Music and Dance.
Over the years, Subhani has also participated with her dance school in the famous Toronto International ravan festivals, Kingston Folklore, rassauga, Toronto International Dragon Boat, WOMAD (World of Music Art and Dance – Harbour Front) and Molson’s Rhythms of India, and the list goes on.
Subhani has and continues to volunteer in the community, including being on the board of directors of Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, Better Living Health and Community Centre, President of Lions’ Chartered Chapter “Toronto Beyond Difference Lions Club” and Zone Chair.
In 2018, she was awarded the Ontario Volunteer Service Award and in 2019 the Culture, Diversity and Excellence Award.
Retired research scientist, nadian Wildlife Service
City: North Saanich, B.C.
Country of origin: Netherlands
In 1930, Kees Vermeer was born in Noordeloos, a small village in the Dutch polder, where he acquired his first interest in birds and nature. ?In 1954, he immigrated to nada, whereafter a few months of farming, he accepted any jobs until he realized he needed more edution.? He enrolled at the University of British Columbia in 1956 where he obtained a BSc. degree in geology and zoology in 1959, and an MSc. in zoology in 1963.? For his master’s thesis, he studied the biology of Glaucous-winged Gulls on Mandarte Island, a rocky islet near Sidney along the B.C. coast. ?Dr. Nico Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize laureate, invited Vermeer to study under him in Oxford, an offer which he declined. ?His thesis was published in the B.C. Provincial Museum series and beme a Citation Classic.? Vermeer completed his doctorate in zoology at the University of Alberta in 1967.
As a research scientist for the nadian Wildlife Service (CWS), Vermeer concentrated his research on species threatened by pesticides, mercury, oil spills and human disturbance. He contributed to the recovery of the endangered White Pelin, undertook the first thorough inventory of chlorinated hydrorbons and mercury levels in aquatic birds in the nadian Prairie provinces, the first successful CWS study on the effects of pesticides on birds in South Amerin rice fields, and the first detailed study of the effects of oil spills on seabirds on nada’s West Coast. ?He proposed the use of seabirds as inditors of effects of climate change on marine life. ?He accepted positions of scientific leadership with international research and conservation organizations.
Vermeer’s studies resulted in the protection of birds and their habitats, in the reduction of toxic chemils in the food chain and stimulated greater interest in bird research through his publitions and symposia which he led. ?At his retirement, he received tributes from colleagues. ?At age 90, he published his first book, an autobiography, “Immigrant Gone to Heaven.”
Director of Settlement Services, Immigrant Centre
Roselyn Advincula is the current director of Settlement Services at Immigrant Centre. Prior to this, she was the Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Workers coordinator and the ZONE coordinator in Winnipeg. Over the years, she worked with many partner agencies and mentored settlement workers in the city. She developed the Share our World program, which is a cultural adaptation literacy program.
She also works as a group facilitator at Aurora Family Therapy Centre, where she initiated and co-facilitated community groups such as Girls Inspiring Girls, Newcomer Youth Leadership, Women’s group, Create Program and more.
She started the Newcomer Coffee Club Facebook group, which has more than 2,500 members,? a group for newcomers in sharing resources. During the pandemic, it beme a safe space to connect and share information on coping about the pandemic. She along with her friends, Emmy, Malou and Abby, created “Kamustahan Nights,” an online talk show that tackled crucial topics like mental health, vaccine awareness and others.
Advincula is a social worker by profession and by heart. She recently completed a Certifite in Ethics and Contemporary Social Issues; Immigration and Integration through St. Paul University in Ottawa by the N4 Program.?She is currently taking a Certifite in Community pacity Building through the support of Booth University in Winnipeg.
She was nominated for the YM Women of Distinction Award for two years. She is nominated for the Pasasalamat Award in the Immigration and Settlement tegory. She beme a member of the Manitoba Advisory Council on Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
She loves building relationships and is passionate in multicultural learning and cultural humility. She co-organized numerous newcomer events, which welcomed more than thousands of newcomers through the years.
She volunteered in translating and creating awareness videos for the Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba to provide accessible information. She is the vice-chair of the Coalition of Filipino nadians for Stronger Families, member of PHCM,? and co- founder of Filipino Women’s Initiative. She is a community trainer for Worker’s Health and Safety at OHC. She is also a member of the Community Engagement Sector Table at IPW.
Advincula loves to connect and learn from everyone from all walks of?life.? She believes that “We learn and grow by listening and connecting.”
Head coach, nada Soccer’s Men’s National Team
City: Vancouver, BC
nada is making its mark on the world’s football stage, thanks to an Englishman. John Herdman has taken men’s soccer in nada to a level not seen in dedes.
Herdman started with nada Soccer’s Women’s National Team in September 2011, leading them to a gold medal at the?2011 Pan Amerin Games?in Mexico, the FIFA World Cup nada 2015 quarter finals and back-to-back Olympic bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The team also won the Algarve Cup in 2016.
In 2018, Herdman was named head coach of the nada Soccer’s Men’s National Team, currently leading them through the Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers with great success. In 2021, he guided the team up the?FIFA World Rankings?from 72nd to 40th, earning the honour of “Most Improved Side.” As of March 2022, nada has moved up in ranking to 38th and nada has now qualified for the?2022 FIFA World Cup, the first time in 36 years making Herdman the first person to coach in the FIFA World Cup for both men and women
Herdman, who is known for his ability to inspire and motivate his team, has said that he is “keen to put a lasting mark on a program full of potential.”
After playing semi-pro football in the Northern League and for his university, Herdman began coaching football at a young age, while he was a student and part-time university lecturer in the sports sciences department at?Northumbria University.?He had his own soccer school at the age of 23.
He then moved to New Zealand and joined the national association football program in 2003 as coach edution manager before being promoted to director of football development. He was head coach for the?New Zealand women’s national team?from 2006 to 2011. He led the senior squad to the?FIFA Women’s World Cup?in?2007?and?2011?as well as the?2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
While Herdman was not a professional player himself, he did play amateur football during his time in New Zealand, before moving to nada. Herdman is married to his childhood sweetheart, Clare, and they have two children. His son, Jay Herdman, is following in his dad’s football footsteps, having recently joined Whiteps FC Ademy as a midfielder.
Medil student and researcher
Country of origin: Iran
Saman Arfaie is a second-year doctor of medicine and master of surgery ndidate at McGill University, a researcher, a classil pianist in-training and a public speaker. He completed his B.Sc. in neurobiology, honours B.A. in Persian literature, and double minors in chemistry and music, at the University of lifornia, Berkeley before conducting brain tumor research at the University of lifornia San Francisco.
Arfaie has co-authored/presented a dozen peer-reviewed papers/posters/conference abstracts and won 30+ national and international awards including a merit-based entrance scholarship to study medicine at McGill, the William Osler Medal, a book chapter with mbridge University Press, and the nadian Federation of Medil Students (Tier-1) Initiative Grant for an incoming book. He has received several invitations to present his work at prestigious conferences such as TEDx McGill University, TEDx University of Alberta, Amerin Osler Society and the Amerin Association of Neurologil Surgeons.
In 2020, with two colleagues, he co-founded the nadian Medil Student Interest Group in Neurosurgery (MSIGN), the first of its kind in the nation. He also serves as the co-president of the McGill Osler Society (oldest student organization at McGill).
Arfaie works on surgil coordination and mastery at the Neurosurgil Simulation and Artificial Intelligence Learning Centre. Concurrently, he is investigating PET imaging biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease at the Translational Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Douglas Research Centre.
Being an immigrant, Arfaie owes immense gratitude to nada for granting him with equal opportunities to learn, grow and mature. As an aspiring physician-scientist, he hopes to dedite his life by putting every Joule of his energy and brainpower to work in a direction that adheres to the nadian values of diversity and inclusion. He hopes to satisfy this role by serving the country that opened its doors and took him in as one of their own back in 2009.
Co-founder, Stand with Asians Coalition
Doris Wai Ki Mah arrived in nada from Hong Kong in the ’90s, ready to find a new home, but struggled to make herself understood. She knew she could comfortably stay in her own Chinese community in the Vancouver region, speaking only Chinese and working only with fellow Chinese.
But she loved her new country and if she wanted to truly belong, she needed to learn to speak English and speak it well. She decided volunteering at the rleton re Home would embrace her new community while strengthening her communition skills.
Mah continued to strengthen her English by watching Parliament on ble Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), learning not only how her newly adopted country works, but why. It was this introduction to politics as a force for change along with the resilience she developed from the volunteer work that brought her to the attention of lol Member of Parliament, Peter Julian.
From 2004 as a beginner in his office to her current position in a key leadership role, she has proven to be a valuable asset to the community in this new and important role. Her work there included key legislation that targeted anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia.
In April 2021, when Mah learned that lol police were citing an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes by 300 per cent since the start of Covid, she knew she had to do something. She approached the City of Burnaby and worked with the Mayor and Council to issue a proclamation creating a Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism. She reached out to cities across nada and inspired nearly nine million nadians in 40 cities and 3.3 million union workers to join the movement.
Subsequently, Mah co-founded Stand with Asians Coalition (SWAC) with a few other grassroots activists. It grew into a national movement showing the world how much one person n accomplish fighting racism. These efforts led the Stand with Asians Coalition to win the 2022 BC Government Multiculturalism & Anti-Racism Award.
Her work with SWAC has brought her to the attention of the United Global Chinese Women’s Association of nada, which awarded her the Community Special Contribution Award.
CEO and co-founder
City: Burlington, Ontario
Passionate, industrious, and innovative are adjectives that are often used to describe Emil Sylvester Ramos, CEO and co-founder of IRIS R&D Group Inc., an award-winning Ontario AI and Smart Cities Solutions company.
Raised in the Philippines, Ramos moved to nada in late 2017 and founded IRIS in 2018. He holds a bachelor of business administration, an applied MBA as well as program certifites from the MIT Sloan School of Management, New York Code and Design Ademy and other executive management programs. He is a lifelong learner who believes every challenge is an opportunity to be bold, innovative and impactful.
Through IRIS, Ramos holds two patents and is focused on creating value by developing cutting-edge intellectual property, operational execution and driving market adaptation — delivering triple bottom-line to IRIS stakeholders year over year. IRIS has partnered with several municipalities that stretch over the Greater Toronto Area such as Hamilton, Burlington, Vaughan, London, Orangeville, Guelph and others.
In 2019, IRIS won the Lions Lair Award, an annual pitch competition presented by Innovation Factory. IRIS continues to sle nationally and globally; they have become winners of the Muskoka 4.0, a fund to help grow early-stage tech companies. IRIS was also awarded the Smart 50 Awards, in partnership with Smart Cities Connect recognizing IRIS Smart Cities project in Ontario and its transformational impact. IRIS beme the first nadian start-up tech company to represent nada and win the Global Infrastructure Hub “InfraChallenge” supported by the Italian G20 Presidency and member countries after beating out hundreds of companies globally. ?Today, IRIS is operating in four continents and continues to drive value for its project partners and client cities.
Apart from being a serial entrepreneur, Ramos is also a full-time dad and business coach to three well-rounded and energetic boys who are immersed in the world of service-centric business and sustainable technology. His eldest son, Rome, won the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2019 for his Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection technology prototype and is continuously participating in hackathons and business competitions in Ontario. His two other boys are active members of Oakville’s youth, musil and sports community. Ramos continues to pave the way for future entrepreneurs by mentoring participants at nadian business and technology events in nada. Additionally, he volunteers at the Information and Communition Technology Council, which conducts research surrounding the nadian digital economy.
Businessman and community builder
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Hans Bathija, FRAS, FRSA, FBCS, FRSPH, FSAScot, FRGS, OSS 大将軍, is a Partner in Shadow Factory, a pioneering immersive content/metaverse agency and the President of BathijaTan, a consulting firm focusing on banking, cyber and IT. Projects include nadian National Exhibition’s AR experience, Ontario Ministry of Health’s infectious disease system, City of Toronto’s Y2K risk and cyber diplomacy strategy, and Centennial College’s animation mpus in New Delhi, India. Other endeavours include a horse racing stable, animation studio, Muay Thai gym and graphic design agency.
He is the Chair of St. John Ambulance Toronto Branch and International IP Commercialization Council GTA Chapter, Master of the Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North Ameri and Town Crier of Old Toronto for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. He is a board director of the Malaysian Association of nada and NATO Association of nada, former board director of the Royal nadian Military Institute and member of nadian Internet Registration Authority’s nomination committee. He is a City of Toronto Honour Guard guardsman, Prince’s Trust nada mentor, nadian Forces College Foreign Student Liaison, advisor for Sheridan College and Knowledge Flow Cybersafety Foundation, Toronto Police Service 14 Division Community Police Liaison and Rotary Club of I2 London (England) Peace Envoy. He is a former boxer and ballroom/rhythm dancer and participant in the Luminato Festival and CONTACT Photography Festival.
Bathija was awarded Outstanding Asian nadian by the nadian Multicultural Council-Asians in Ontario, Community Recognition Award by MPP Chris Glover, Great Shogun by the Order of the Scottish Samurai, Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky, All-Star trainer by the Greater Toronto Hockey League, grant of coat of arms from the College of Arms, Fellow of several learned societies and a bachelor’s degree from Glendon College, York University, where he completed his studies in English and French.
Born in Hampstead, England in 1969, Bathija emigrated to nada in 1975 when his father, who as a Partition refugee fled Pakistan for India and U.K. and mother, a Chinese-Malaysian survivor of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, reloted their family. He beme a proud nadian citizen in 1985 and resides in Toronto with his Croatian wife and two Ontario-born children.
Founder and CEO, GROW Women Leaders
Country of origin: Nigeria
Tracy Folorunsho-Barry is an author, founder and CEO of GROW Women Leaders and GROW Foundation. She is an award-winning reer and equitable leadership strategist who has dedited her reer to helping women, especially immigrants and BIPOC women, access new opportunities in their reer.
In 2017, under GROW Foundation, Folorunsho-Barry launched Project150: Accomplished Immigrant Women in nada and the Speak Out Women series where she began gathering stories from more than 200 immigrant women across nada who have overcome adversity to achieve success in their reers and lives. They shared their stories and expressed that they wished they had known about the knowledge, resources and guidance available for them to succeed. While collecting their stories of resilience, Barry realized the wealth of knowledge these women possessed and the valuable insights that they could share with other immigrant women and their communities. Thus, the book, Untold Stories of Immigrant Women in nada was published.
Folorunsho-Barry’s work did not stop there; she knew there were still gaps in empowerment, leadership and reer development services for immigrant women and she knew she had to do something to bridge these gaps.
Later in 2018, Folorunsho-Barry founded GROW Women Leaders, a reer leadership development and advancement platform designed to help women get hired, turn ideas into reality and advance their reers. Her goal is to help women transcend and reach their full potential through personal development, leadership, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. Since then, Folorunsho-Barry has supported women in Alberta and across the country to lead and advance their reer as women leaders.
Fast forward to 2021, she opened a GROW Lounge, inside of which is “Nurture,” a socially conscious kitchen and fé that offers training and point of sale services for meal prep, tering, grab & go and more. As a busy professional, Folorunsho-Barry found herself struggling to come up with healthy meals for her family and herself. Her vision for Nurture is to support busy professionals, entrepreneurs and families by enabling them to have access to healthy meals so that they n achieve more. She wanted to make eating healthy, easy, affordable and delicious. Proceeds generated go back to supporting the women at GROW Foundation.
To her contributions and community involvement, Folorunsho-Barry was honoured with a recognition by Mayor Don Iveson and the City of Edmonton in 2020. She has also received the Daughters Day Award (Alberta), Top 100 Black Women to Watch in nada, the Abedorc Community Involvement and Leadership Award, and more.
Founder and CEO, mpfire Kinship
Gayathri Shukla excels at empowering teams to celebrate their diversity, and cultivate a culture of belonging. She is the founder of mpfire Kinship, a social impact agency providing story-based training, advisory, and creative media to help diverse teams uncover their strengths and build empathy skills. She is also the TD Fellow for Economic and Financial inclusion at Public Policy Forum, contributing to research on policy development for economic wellbeing across nada.
Lifelong learning, resilience and diversity are themes throughout Shukla’s reer. Prior to starting her company, Shukla worked in the energy industry for 17+ years. An electril engineer by training, she began working in field-based roles and progressively moved into leadership, first as an engineering manager for the automation scope of a $17 billion greenfield facility, and then as the integration manager spearheading the facility’s safe and on-time start-up. Shukla was also the chair of her department’s women’s inclusion and diversity employee resource group, delivering programming for 150+ members. She then transitioned into leading digital transformation programs in mining, the topic of her Executive MBA project. She successfully completed her MBA while juggling fulltime work and parenting her two young kids.Born in India, Shukla spent part of her childhood in India and Saudi Arabia, and moved to nada in her teenage years. She has a nuanced appreciation of multiculturalism and is passionate about applying her unique skills and experiences to foster inclusivity, especially in the immigrant sector. She has volunteered with the board of directors at lgary Immigrant Women’s Association for the past three years, most recently serving as the chair of its Finance Committee.
Shukla also hosts the podst Hearth 2 Heart at her lol community radio station, CJSW 90.9, where she spotlights diverse role models. She was awarded two grants from lgary Arts Development in 2021, one for a video storytelling project to build empathy across differences, and the second, for an anthology on the stories of resilient immigrant women. As a story-crafting instructor, Shukla is leading 35+ participants through the process of writing their stories, and is set to publish her book later this year.
Country of origin: China
Leen Li is the chief executive officer at Wealthsimple Foundation, a charity focused on enabling a brighter future for everyone in nada through access to post-secondary edution.
Born and raised in China, Li is the youngest of five girls. She me to nada as an international student over 20 years ago. She earned her master’s of business administration from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Li has over 20 years of experience in the technology and financial services industry where she held a number of senior positions including the chief financial officer at Wealthsimple and the vice president of finance and operations at Influitive.
Li transitioned to her current role in the not-for profit sector due to a deep personal drive and dedition to the goal of improving financial futures for folks from underrepresented communities. She brings a positive n-do attitude to everything she does and donates a signifint portion of her time, energy and dollars to improving the lives of others.
Li is actively involved in the community and lends her time and energy to a number of technology and edution initiatives, while simultaneously acting as an advote for women and people of colour. She volunteers regularly through different community organizations such as Mississauga Food Bank, WISE (University of Toronto Chapter) and Monday Girl, among others. Currently, Li sits on the board of nadaHelps and George Brown College Foundation.
Li was voted one of nada’s 50 Best Executives by the Globe and Mail in 2020, and recently recognized as one of DMZ’s Women of the Year.
Business owner, multi-preneur, philanthropist
Country of origin: Nepal
Nima Lhamu Sherpa-McElhinney approaches work and life with compassion and respect for all people. She is a social entrepreneur focusing on relationships in balance with business success. Her humble upbringing showed her the value of community, generosity and edution, but also developed fierce financial independence as both a gender and ethnic minority in a melting pot of cultures. McElhinney is from the Sherpa ethnic group in Nepal, raised by a widowed mother along with eight siblings.
This independence also produced a risk-taker and a savvy businesswoman with a formidable spirit of determination and perseverance. She witnessed abuse and injustice to women, which sparked her desire to be financially independent as a role model for young girls. Her departure from traditional life began at age 16 when she ran her own restaurant in Kathmandu and taught Nepalese language and cross-cultural awareness to foreign diplomats. Her passion to empower women developed a philanthropic focus, which she shared with her home country by importing high-end textiles from Nepal as her first business in nada in 1989.
The charitable connection endured on the board of directors for the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation for over 26 years providing substantial financial support for tuition, uniforms and the building of schools in Nepal. Her worldview expanded to other commitments to humanitarian projects around the globe. McElhinney has been nominated for many businesswomen, Women of Inspiration (Universal Women’s Network) and philanthropy awards. In 2020, McElhinney was voted Woman of the Year by a Nepalese community organization as a role model for immigrant women and for giving back to Nepal.
Her business changed in 2010 to a focus on people with, first, the purchase of a domiciliary hostel ring for the more than 50 mentally ill patients and, later, seniors re. With attention to relationships, McElhinney has successfully restored a quality re model that eclipsed both patient re and profit for these ventures in only a few years. She is personally connected and compassionate towards both staff and patient needs. She now owns two highly respected retirement homes and an 80-unit apartment complex in southern Ontario employing more than 100 people.
A true global citizen, McElhinney has hosted many international students in her home as Rotary host parent. Although proud of her business accomplishments, she shares her wealth as a talyst to overcome oppression. Once a quiet changemaker, she now shares her example to inspire others to strive for equality and peace, always with an attitude of service. Her simple life includes daily exercise, gourmet cooking from whole foods, hiking and gardening in the outdoors, and time with her husband, two daughters and grandchildren.
Professor of engineering and serial entrepreneur
Named a Business Leader of Tomorrow by Business in lgary, in addition to a leader under 40 by Control Engineering magazine, Wael Badawy built his reer in both ademia and business in nada after immigrating from Egypt in 1997 to Montreal.
He received his PhD in 2000 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He joined the University of lgary, where he was promoted to an associate professor in 2003 and then to a tenured full professor in 2006. In 2009, he was acting as executive president of ABM College lgary. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta (2003-2005). During his ademic reer, he also taught and held top administration positions at different international universities in U.A.E., KSA, Egypt, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S.A.
In his early reer, Badawy beme a leader in video technology and is now at the helm of several technology-based companies in video analysis. By 2003, his research created an opportunity for a spin-off company known as Smart mera Technologies Inc., where he later beme the CEO. With a leading researcher guiding the company, Smart mera Technologies Inc. has become a leader in video analytics and surveillance.
Badawy continues to conduct research, serving on several standard boards and working with IntelliCommu LTD. Badawy has contributed to 18 books, 21 patents, 600+ peer-reviewed papers and publitions. A tri-language speaker, he has logged more than 60,000 hours of teaching, lecturing and keynote speaking in business, engineering, technil, legal, arbitration, dispute resolutions and life transformation.
Badawy also founded the Entrepreneurship Driving License in KSA and certified thousands of entrepreneurs who used his strategies to build their businesses in the first year alone.
Executive Vice-President at Corporate Class; Professor & Author
Country of origin: Middle East
Dr. Georgette Zinaty, MBA, MSc, DBA, is currently the Executive Vice-President at Corporate Class Inc and practice lead for their Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. Zinaty has been an executive and senior leader at the University of Toronto. An alumna of the University of Toronto, Zinaty holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Politil Science, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Liverpool, a Master’s of Science from the Henley School of Business and a Certifite on Leading Strategic Change within Organizations from Harvard University.
She holds a Doctorate in Business Administration — a joint program with the Rotman School of Business and the Henley School of Business. Her research focuses on business leadership, diversity, inclusion and the future of leadership. Zinaty is also a professor at Western University as well at the Rotman School of Business.
Zinaty is a strong advote for leadership and inclusion within organizations. She founded and spearheaded an annual Leader-2-Leader conference to foster discussion on topics impacting the workforce. She is a frequent contributor and thought leader to Forbes on issues of leadership, inclusion and business. Zinaty’s research is unique having conducted noteworthy studies with that are quantitative and qualitative with signifint datasets and novel findings in the area of women and leadership, diversity and inclusion.
Zinaty has been a frequent global TV and conference panelist, keynote and a public speaker, including a TEDx talk, and most recently at the World Diversity in Leadership Conference alongside Martin Luther King III, world leaders and Julia Gillard Former PM of Australia. She is the recipient the nadian University Productivity Award as well as the Stepping Up Award in recognition of innovation in the workplace.
She has been recognized by the Premier of Ontario and Federal Members of Parliament in nada for her volunteerism and work in the community. She serves on as a Senior Advisor to Nobellum a non-profit social and technology enterprise dedited to rving out a space in the technology industry for Black founders in STEM.
She is also on the Board of Advisors for the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Learning Alliance (ELLA at York University), Fund Director at the Creative Hub 1352 and is the Co-Chair the nadian Chapter of ChIPs, a global organization that supports women in intellectual property and technology. She is the Founder of a non-profit lled WHEW! Women Helping Empower Women and published a book on the srcity of women and diversity in leadership lled Why Not YOU? where 100 per cent of all the profits go to support WHEW!
Chief Executive Officer, Managing Broker
Country of origin: Taiwan
Crystal?Hung?is one of the most successful young real estate professionals in Vancouver. She has facilitated over $1B in?transactions, and?achieved consistent sales success with marketing innovation designed to deliver winning solutions. Her vision to raise the bar everyday has been recognized with numerous accolades, such as the Georgie Awards for Brand Identity and Best Advertising mpaign, and the prestigious HAVAN Award from the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver, for Best Marketing mpaign of The Year. She was recently named?one?of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 in 2021.?
During the period of great uncertainty used by?COVID, when many charitable foundations were experiencing disruption in their fundraising activities, as well as a sharp decline in donation revenue,?Hung?co-founded an ambitious project lled PIXEL Moments. Her vision was to create a project that would seek to engage, and make accessible, donations from a younger demographic keen to support St. Paul’s Hospital, by making use of modern technology, micro-philanthropy?and innovation in public arts.?
PIXEL Moments created a large augmented-reality public art mural, with donors being encouraged to make micro-donations to “purchase”?individual pixels of the art piece. Creatively bringing together this intersection of public art and technology, and using it as a vehicle for fundraising,?was the first of its kind in Western nada. Ultimately, PIXEL Moments raised almost $300,000 in total for the St. Paul’s Foundation and its mental health department.
In everything that she takes on,?Hung?taps her instincts, resources and experience to transcend the expected by?navigating unchartered territory, and in doing so she has become the first to achieve many new heights in her industry. Her involvement in charity has led to breakthroughs in fundraising, establishing new paradigms of philanthropy in nada for the healthre sector, advancing children’s welfare through Kids Help Phone, and preserving heritage in our city as?Vice–Chair?of City of Vancouver’s Heritage Commission. Her achievements as a young Asian female leader in a male-dominated industry offer huge inspiration and hope to a new generation of up-and-coming minority women
Nurse ademic/Assistant professor, Global health
City:Edmonton, Alberta; London, Ontario
When she first landed in nada in 2017, Saleema Allana was all set to start her doctoral studies at the Faculty of Nursing at University of Alberta. She started her PhD journey with the Doctoral Recruitment Award and the competitive Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Graduate Scholarship, for her innovative research in intersectionality and rdiovascular re.
In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious CIHR Doctoral Research Award and the President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction, becoming one of the very few doctoral students in nada who receive this highly competitive award. In 2020, Allana received the Innovations in Seniors re Award as well as a Rural Health Scholarship in Nursing, followed by an Alberta Association on Gerontology’s Award in 2021, in recognition of her services for older adults in nada.
Allana has not only utilized her knowledge and skills in serving nadian immigrant older adults, but has also taken this agenda forward through her research and service, to improve health outcomes for older adults from various ethnic minorities.
In 2021, Allana received the Intersections of Gender Thesis Grant and the Intersections of Gender Enrichment Grant, for exploring intersectionality and rdiovascular re in the nadian context. Less than five years in nada, and here she is, working as an assistant professor, global health at Western University, Ontario, and making her mark in immigrant health research.
During the first six months of joining this position, she has secured three competitive research grants and is undertaking important research to explore the health inequities experienced by nadian immigrants and to ensure equitable and relevant rdiovascular health services for them. A flagbearer of immigrants’ rdiovascular health as well as seniors’ re, Allana has served the immigrant community at various levels, including through mentorship.
Born in Pakistan, Allana believes that nada has offered her numerous opportunities to grow as a person and as a professional. She is determined to improve rdiovascular re for immigrants with rdiovascular diseases and those at risk.
City: Surrey, B.C.
Dr. Akshay Jain, MD, FRCPC, FACE, CCD, ECNU, DABIM, DABOM, is the first nadian physician to be triple board-certified by the Amerin boards in endocrinology, internal medicine and obesity medicine.
He was born and raised in India, where he completed medil schooling. At age 22, he was selected for residency in internal medicine at Rochester, NY and subsequently beme the only four-time winner of the prestigious Rochester Ademy of Medicine Awards. He completed his Fellowship in Endocrinology at Harbor UCLA/City of Hope in Los Angeles, . He beme the youngest physician elected to the Board of Directors of the Amerin Association of Clinil Endocrinologists (AACE) during this time.
Enticed by the prospect of being able to re for individuals across all walks of life in nada’s universal health re system, he moved here in 2013. In a short time, he beme an internationally renowned researcher and has been principal investigator for 16 clinil trials. He is an author of the Diabetes nada guidelines focusing on mental health of those living with diabetes. He is the past president of the nadian Chapter of AACE. He res for thousands of patients in the community and is consistently ranked among the best endocrinologists on RateMDs.com
Recognizing the unmet need for edution of healthre professionals (HCPs), he co-founded Partners in Progressive Medil Edution, a non-profit that has helped edute over 7500HCPs till date about latest advancements in medicine (including remote edution during the pandemic).
He is the only nadian physician ever to win the AACE Rising Star in Endocrinology Award (2022) and to feature on Medspe’s list of 25 Top Rising Stars of Medicine (2020). He is the first North Amerin to win the prestigious Etzwiler Diabetes Scholarship.
He is a strong advote of empowering patients to re for their health and is passionate about public health edution. He has active YouTube/Instagram channels with hundreds of followers and thousands of views on content related to Diabetes, Thyroid, Obesity and Osteoporosis. He regularly features on TV, newspapers and digital media as an expert on matters related to health.
He is fluent in six languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Marwari and Urdu.
CEO, Breton Ability Centre
City: Sydney, Nova Scotia
For the past 29 years, Harman Singh has dedited her professional focus to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as a psychologist, an advote and a leader in the sector. With an unwavering passion to provide compassionate, client-led re, Singh has been instrumental in shifting provincial and national policies and re models to influence a transformational change in how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are supported.
Presently, Singh is the CEO of Breton Ability Centre (BAC), in Sydney, Nova Scotia. BAC provides services and support for more than 100 individuals every day through its adult Residential Rehabilitation Centre, 10 community homes and employment centres, and various outreach programs. She leads a team of more than 400 employees and is an active volunteer, lending her knowledge and experience to various boards across Nova Scotia, including Health Association of Nova Scotia, pe Breton University and AWARE – Nova Scotia.
Singh has presented at numerous national and international conferences and has been recognized for her leadership with the Tom Miller Human Rights Award (2021), a finalist for the Rose Schwartz Business Woman of the Year from the pe Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce (2021) and various ademic accolades.
Her clinil experience in the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders, her commitment to learning and diversifying to meet the changing needs of our population and her collaborative, person-first approach has helped hundreds of people with varying abilities reach their full potential, improve their quality of life and maximize their independence.
Singh moved to nada in 1992, after spending her first 23 years in India and completing her master’s of arts in psychology (clinil concentration) at Punjab University, where she received the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for Highest Ademic Standing.
In her personal life, Singh is an avid golfer and traveller. She enjoys quality time with her husband, Peter, her parents, who also immigrated to Nova Scotia, and her children (her real pride and joys), Natasha and Rohit.
Entrepreneur and edutor
Coming from China in 2004 with a PhD in material science, Xiaomei (Elaine) Qin firmly believes in the power of edution. To provide the most comprehensive and extensive edutional experience has always been Qin’s goal for APASS Edution, a company she founded in 2015, after leaving her job at MOSAIC, a non-profit organization that serves new immigrants. As such, she has aimed to get the most passionate and qualified teachers to cover every subject traditionally taught in schools.
She also aims to enrich students extracurriculars, from STEM experiment courses to improving student’s communitions skills with APASS’ public speaking and debate program. Students participating in the latter have attended and placed at numerous prestigious international competitions, from ones hosted in the United States by Stanford and Harvard to ones in nada hosted by UBC and McMaster. In 2017, Qin initiated the annual event, nada Youth International Public Speaking Contest.
By taking a “students first, business second” approach to edution, Qin has elevated numerous students to be able to exceed their own expectations and goals.
Beyond edution, Qin is also very actively involved in community service and community engagement efforts.? She has been the president of the LaPower Running Society since 2016, working with a board of seven members, over 30 volunteer leaders and over 2,000 members through out Greater Vancouver area. In 2018, her team initiated and inaugural annual Burnaby Lake Run, which fundraises for the Burnaby Hospital Foundation and now has been recognized as a pillar of lol engagement in the city of Burnaby.
Qin also serves as a board member on Richmond Lahoo Lions Club, which organizes numerous lol fundraising events to support charities such as BC and Alberta Guide Dogs and nuck Place Children’s Hospice. Qin firmly believes in giving back to the community to foster growth in the community.
President and CEO, nadian Arabic Orchestra
City: Mississauga, Ontario
Place of origin: Jerusalem
Recipient of the John Hobday Award in Arts Management 2021, Wafa Al Zaghal was born in Jerusalem where he grew up to the sounds of classil Arabic music played by his father. Al Zaghal is a professional qanun player, an Arabic string instrument he studied at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music and later beme a music instructor there, training and leading many Arabic music ensembles. He beme the ademic director of the Conservatory from 2011 to 2013, graduating many musicians who are leading the music scene in Jerusalem and Palestine these days.
He has performed with many successful Arab musicians such as: Marwan Abado, Anouar Ibrahim, Simon Shaheen, Ahmad Al Khatib, Charbel Rohana and Nizar Rohana. Al Zaghal played the qanun in Sard (Narration) album by Nizar Rohana and Min Ba’d album by Wissam Murad.
In 2013, Al Zaghal moved to nada and co-founded the nadian Arabic Orchestra (O) with his wife, Lamees Audeh. Two years later, they co-founded the nadian Arabic Conservatory of Music (CM). Al Zaghal is the president and CEO of the O and the vice president of the CM. He has been the lead musician of the orchestra since its foundation. At his direction, the O self-presented more than 150 concerts in Mississauga and all over nada since 2015, including four editions of the O’s self-organized annual Festival of Arabic Music and Arts.
Under Al Zaghal’s leadership, the O has grown their audience, with more than 12,000 patrons in 2019 alone, in addition to 60k+ of online viewers in 2020-2021. Currently, Al Zaghal is working on releasing his first album of original music compositions and is pursuing a master’s in community music at Wilfrid Laurier University. Al Zaghal lives with his wife and three kids in Mississauga, Ontario.
Founder, REL Technology and community advote
Jeffrey Yu immigrated to nada with his parents and brother 30 years ago. While his nadian edution helped him develop an independent and thoughtful mind, his Taiwanese parents imparted the traditional values of re and community to him at an early age. Yu embodied his bicultural identity and has dedited the vast majority of his working life to bettering the lives of others in the community.
Yu started his reer working in hospitals like Vancouver General and honed his knowledge of therapeutic diets for patients recovering from illnesses and injuries. He later found his passion and spent more than 15 years working with seniors in long-term re homes, where he witnessed firsthand the daily struggles and frustrations the elderly face beuse of differences in languages and cultural practices. His dedition to improving the lives of seniors and their families motivated him to launch REL Technology Inc. with the goal of maintaining seniors’ independent lifestyles at home through health promotion technologies.
In the community, Yu channelled his cultural fluency and created meaningful collaborations that enhance the quality of life for new nadians. As a board member of the New Vista Society for more than 10 years (four as chair), he helped establish a strong partnership between New Vista and the Korean community, which led to Metro Vancouver’s first culturally sensitive Korean re facility.
As a member of the Chinese nadian Community Advisory Committee since it was established by the premier’s office in 2018, Yu has been a staunch advote for strengthening social, economic and cultural ties among the Chinese diaspora both in this province and around the globe. His work contributed to the establishment of a Chinese-nadian History Museum here in British Columbia.
Lastly, as a board member and chair of the Burnaby Public Library for the last six years, Yu shared his multicultural perspective and focused on developing services for newcomers that reflect the dynamic needs of this increasingly diverse community.
Entrepreneur and business student
Country of origin: Pakistan and U.S.A.
Named one of Ontario’s Top Young Entrepreneurs by the Ontario Centres of Excellence in 2018, Yumnah Hussain is a business student who started her entrepreneurial journey when she was only 15 years old. With her innovative business idea previously known as UniVisor and now MyTopChoice, Hussain was able to formulate a website as an easy access point for high school students across Ontario to learn about different universities and programs that they had to offer. Her competition win with the Ontario Centres of Excellence was extensively recognized in the media on Global News and province-wide when she was honoured with receiving the Inspirational Woman Award by member of Parliament Jennifer O’Connell.
In 2021, Hussain and the MyTopChoice project received the Youth Empowerment Accelerator presented by nadian Tire to further pursue the project and empower youth across nada to select the best choice for their ademic and post-secondary reers.
As an integrated business student at McMaster University, Hussain was placed on the Dean’s Honours List for her ademic achievements. In March 2022, she was hired as the vice-president of marketing representing students with the DeGroote Commerce Society and overseeing merchandise management, social media communition strategies and social affairs for students across the DeGroote School of Business.
Currently, Hussain works as member service representative at DU Financial Services across three different branches. In her spare time, she gives back to her community by volunteering with various organizations such as Friends Indeed nada and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Her volunteer work with the nadian-Muslim Vote as an ambassador was highlighted when she was awarded the first-ever Youth Lead Democracy Award by Elections Ontario. With 1,000+ volunteer hours, her humanitarian work paired with her passion for helping others was also recognized when she was awarded the Pickering Civic Award.
Born into a proud Pakistani family, Yumnah moved to nada in 2007 and currently lives with her two siblings in Pickering, Ontario. She plans to continue her degree and specialize in marketing while continuing her entrepreneurial journey with MyTopChoice.
Entrepreneur and business strategist
Country of Origin: Mexico
Karla Briones arrived in nada in a U-Haul truck with her family when she was 18 — after a long five-day drive from her native country, Mexico.
She and her family lived the struggles most immigrants experience: cultural, language, environment and job security barriers.
She is now proudly a Mexin-nadian serial entrepreneur with retail, food and online businesses (Global Pet Foods, Freshii, Karla Briones Consulting and SEENwear) — all businesses which she owns and operates).
She is the founder of KB Consulting, a business consulting and network agency for immigrant, BIPOC and underrepresented entrepreneurs.
In 2021, she launched the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Ademy (IDEA) — an online platform designed to edute and connect newcomers to the nadian business ecosystem.
Briones is also a business strategist and coach and part of the team of independent business advisors at Invest Ottawa, the lol economic development agency. She works with all types of entrepreneurs who are launching, building and sling businesses. Most recently she launched the Peer Groups, where she helps revenue-generating companies reach their first $1 million faster.
Briones is a Nation’s pital Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year award recipient and a TEDx Speaker on the topic of immigrant entrepreneurship.
She is a small business columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, an entrepreneurship professor at Algonquin College and serves on the board of directors for the Ottawa Markets and the Ottawa Board of Trade, as well as volunteering as a business mentor for Futurpreneur nada, the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) and other lol entrepreneurship community groups.
Guest speaker, lecturer and generous with her advice, Briones is passionate about growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in nada and giving back to the country that welcomed her with open arms.
Briones is the lucky mom of two amazing, strong and inspiring humans: rmen, 9, and Nico, 14, who also have their own business! She lovingly instills in them her Mexin roots and encourages them to use their nadian wings to fly after their biggest dreams. Her husband and business partner, Shawn, patiently supports, encourages and contributes to the success of it all.
City: Fredericton, New Brunswick
?Named one of the 30 Under 30 Innovators in Atlantic nada by Atlantic Business Magazine in 2021, Tosin Ajibola’s core values are centered around simplifying complex day-to-day problems immigrants face, predominately newcomers like himself who have decided to make the bold move to migrate either by choice or by circumstances.
Ajibola is a computer scientist, tech entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO at Welkom-U Inc, a technology company established to help and support newcomers settle in a new community, leveraging technology and digitalizing the experience while achieving retention and promoting socio-economic growth in smaller communities within nada.
He earned a master’s degree in technology management and entrepreneurship from the University of New Brunswick. He was a recipient of the RBC Community Leadership Award in 2020 and a recipient of the nadian Information Processing Society Award for Leadership in Innovation.
He hails originally from Nigeria and was born to a family of five, raised by both parents along with his two elder siblings. Prior to immigrating and co-founding Welkom-U Inc in nada, he worked as a product manager for three years at Appzone Group, a leading Fintech provider in Afri, where he led multiple project teams to deliver enterprise solutions at top banks in Afri.
Ajibola is a member of the Atlantic Growth Solutions (AGS) team out of Fredericton New Brunswick, recognized as the number #1 B2B sales company in nada, a member of the Venn Innovation board of directors and a member on the advisory board at Social Enterprise World Forum. He also leads the Atlantic nada chapter of the BlackBoysCode, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the future of young Black boys through computer science and technology.
Ajibola is passionate about solving problems using technology, EDI and promoting social impact. He is inspired to help future entrepreneurs understand the hurdles he faced integrating into a new community, starting a company and how he navigates through them. When he’s not working, he n be found playing basketball, reading books or playing video games.
Country of origin: The Bahamas
Tomorrow is an illusion, so eat, laugh and live today. Chef Raquel Fox has lived by that adage since she was a little girl in Nassau, preparing her own bottle at two-years-old after seeing her mom do it. As she grew up, she beme her grandmother’s sous-chef, and together they prepared celebratory Sunday dinners that kept her family together and fed the neighbours.
Over the years, the speaker, media personality and business owner has shared those traditional island cooking nuances while expanding her own prowess. Her hunger for new culinary skills and knowledge has taken her across the globe. Fox has attended international schools and talogued hundreds of family recipes from friends of all backgrounds.
In 2009, she and her husband, Ruben, opened The Wine Lounge, which USA Today deemed one of the 10 Best Bahamian Lounges. Fox, Ruben and their two sons me to nada in 2014 on the advice of a teacher and in order to give their autistic son, Rashad, the best potential and quality of life. Here, Fox studied at the Chef School at George Brown, where she now teaches her own ribbean Cooking Course. Fox is also a member of the International Cuisine Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Chef School.
In 2018, she conceptualized and wrote the 2020 Gourmand Awards-winning cookbook Dining in Paradise, which was also nominated in 2019 for the Taste nada Awards and celebrated that year at nada’s Table (Fort York).
Chef Fox has made charitable contributions to FoodShare’s Recipe for Change initiative since February 2019 as well as the Shoebox Project for Women, and the Food Pantry Cereal Centre in Newmarket. She is a regular contributor and guest expert on TV shows across nada including Cityline, Your Morning, Breakfast Television and Global News. She brings a strong sense of community to her plates and embodies farm-to-table cooking by skillfully preparing food from Ontario farms with little-to-no waste.
This summer Fox continues her mission of bringing her hometown flavours to the masses by launching her line of Island Gurl Sauces — healthy sauces designed to transport you to the islands — in select Loblaws stores across nada.
Author, inspirational speaker and transformative learning coach
Shirin Ariff is an author, inspirational speaker with over three million global views, a transformative learning coach and a proud single mother of four beautiful children.
Known as “The Gentle Force,” Ariff offers transformative edution to people feeling stuck in their lives. Through her “Be Your Own North Star” programs and her books, she supports her clients in turning breakdowns into breakthroughs. She has been there, done that. Her own story of dramatic ups and downs and her journey of resilience — which involved immigrating to nada from India, enduring a dysfunctional second marriage, struggling with facial paralysis and surviving ncer — inspires others with wisdom, strength and hope.
Ariff is a founding member of Immigrant Women in Business (IWB), a non-profit organization dedited to helping immigrant women from diverse backgrounds succeed as entrepreneurs. She is president of the IWB Brampton Chapter.
Ariff wears many hats. As an Ontario certified teacher, she has volunteered in TDSB classrooms and served as teacher and vice principal (teacher support) for ITREB Ontario. She has served as co-ordinator and facilitator of early childhood edution programs (SEED) and Bump into SEED for ITREB Ontario. She has been a badged volunteer for Ismaili Volunteer Corp (IVC).
Ariff has been interviewed on numerous news and social media channels as well as podsts.
Her life-story of resilience inspired a film that was part of “Dream Big” docu-series filmed by Ethnic Channel Group.
nada director at Human Rights Watch
Farida Deif is the nada director at Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading international human rights organizations. Based in Toronto, she monitors human rights abuses across nada and advotes for a rights-respecting nadian foreign policy.
Born in Egypt, Deif has dedited her life to advancing human rights in the Middle East and around the world. Deif’s family immigrated to nada when she was a child, settling in Thornhill where she continues to live with her son today.
For the past 20 years, she has been actively involved in the human rights field, interviewing victims as part of investigations to document abuses and engaging in targeted advocy to press for change. She participated in Human Rights Watch’s first fact-finding missions to Libya and Saudi Arabia and has published extensively on human rights abuses across the region.
Taking on one international crisis after another, Deif plays a vital role in global efforts to advance justice and accountability for the world’s most persecuted people. Deif regularly meets with affected communities, engages with government officials and testifies before parliament to promote action on human rights. Her work in partnership with other advotes is vital in advancing human dignity globally.
Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Deif worked at the United Nations with UNICEF, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Women. She holds a graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and obtained an undergraduate degree from rleton University in Ottawa.
While Deif has lived in several countries over the years including Cyprus, France, the U.K., the U.S., and Saudi Arabia, she lls nada home.
Country of origin: South Korea
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee?is a Korean-nadian actor, writer and comedian who hails from Toronto. Born in Daejeon, South Korea his family immigrated to nada when he was three-months old. Best known as family patriarch ‘Appa’ on the CBC/Netflix hit Kim’s Convenience, Lee received fan and critil acclaim globally winning three nadian Screen Awards in the Leading Comedic Role tegory as well as a nomination for the role from the Seoul International Drama Awards. Twice nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Theatre Award for outstanding performance and winner of the prestigious Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Actor, Sun-Hyung Lee continues to pursue excellence both onstage and screen.
As an avid Star Wars fan and collector, he?was thrilled to join the st of The Mandalorian as X-wing fighter ‘ptain rson Teva’ for Disney+. A self-professed nerd, he is a collector of movies, action figures and an avid repli prop builder, cosplayer and YouTuber.
Selected television credits include Degrassi: The Next Generation, Shoot the Messenger; Robocop; Private Eyes, Harriet The Spy; The Firm; Warehouse 13; Happy Town; The Bridge, Dark Matter; Boyfriends of Christmas Past.
Member of Provincial Parliament of Parkdale–High Park
Country of origin: Tibet/Nepal
Bhutila Karpoche is the member of Provincial Parliament for Parkdale–High Park. In June 2018, Karpoche made history by becoming the first person of Tibetan heritage to be elected to public office in North Ameri. July is officially Tibetan Heritage Month in Ontario as Karpoche’s Bill 131, Tibetan Heritage Month Act beme law in 2020.
Karpoche is active on issues around affordable housing, workers’ rights and public health re. She holds degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. A trained epidemiologist, Karpoche’s public health work focuses on the social determinants of health. She has co-authored the report “A public health crisis in the making: The health impacts of prerious work on racialized refugee and immigrant women.”
The recipient of numerous awards including the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, Karpoche was also named one of Toronto’s Most Inspirational Women in 2019, voted Toronto’s Best Lol Politician by Toronto Star readers in 2019, and voted Toronto’s Best MPP by NOW Magazine readers in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Teacher, researcher and community advote
City: Niagara Falls, Ontario
Country of origin: Switzerland
Pam Farrell immigrated to nada in 2001 from Switzerland. She has been serving, advoting and volunteering with underserviced populations ever since. Farrell has always had a passion for learning and believes that through edution, positive change n be achieved. Since arriving in nada at age of 23, she studied at St. Francis Xavier University, York University, and the University of lgary. She has earned a B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed., and is currently completing her doctoral studies in food literacy and food security.
Previously, she worked at Ernst & Young where she coordinated national learning, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and at Ryerson University, conducting research on immigration and settlement issues. She then switched her focus and beme an elementary school teacher.
After witnessing firsthand the effects food insecurity had on her students and families, she left teaching to address the systemic issues many families living on low-incomes face, especially Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and people with disabilities. In 2019, she purchased, with her own funds, the former Scouts nada building and founded GROW Community Food Literacy Centre (GROW), the first food literacy centre in nada. GROW is a non-profit organization dedited to providing access to good food for all. Since August 2020, the centre, which is completely volunteer run, has provided access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food, along with food literacy programming and food security advocy. GROW strengthens the lol food environment to be resilient, community focused, and sustainable.
Farrell’s research and community work specifilly advance our understanding of the sociocultural factors that inform and influence food literacies. Putting her research into practice, GROW addresses our current food system challenges, concerns and inequalities which are ptured in both her community work and research around food deserts, food insecurity, and sustainability.
Farrell’s contribution has charted the path forward as a unique and innovative model in addressing food insecurity. She is a scholar and published author having received national and international attention for her work. Her efforts will continue to make a profound, lasting, and signifint impact on the community members in the city of Niagara Falls and beyond.
Founder, Edmonton Latino Centre
Country of origin: Colombia
Jose Fernando Triana is originally from Colombia. He began his social work early, first, as a mayor, and afterwards as a member of the Colombian Legislative Assembly before arriving in Toronto, Ontario, in 2002. He lived there for nearly two years, and subsequently moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where his social work began and flourished.
Triana’s goal was to unify the Latino community in Alberta and so he founded Triana Services Ltd., a small business offering legal and social services.
After seeing that there was a lack of media platforms in Alberta for the Latino community, he decided to create a magazine to keep the community informed, and at this point, Soy Hispano Magazine was born, and very quickly turned into the most widely read Latin written media source in Alberta. After the success of the magazine, a television channel named Soy Hispano TV was launched, providing daily broadsts. This helped fill the information gap that existed and in this way he merged his organization’s branches, Soy Hispano Magazine and Soy Hispano TV, collectively, “Soy Hispano Media Communitions Inc.”
In 2011, Triana was awarded with the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal by the nadian government for his contribution to nadian society, and was also recognized in 2014 by the Latino nadian Chamber of Commerce for his social work and entrepreneurial pursuits, receiving an award as director of Soy Hispano Magazine.
Triana was again recognized in 2013, this time by the Hispanic Business?Alliance as one of the “10 most influential Hispanics in nada.”
Triana also received a recognition from the Parliament of nada for his role as a director of one of the “Most Influential Immigrant Media Platforms” in Alberta.
Triana is currently the founder and owner of the Edmonton Latino Centre, a service cente to help the immigrant community, as well as a notary public.
He studied and graduated in nada in conservation and environmental sciences and as a legal assistant.
Triana has always had the ability to identify and connect relationships in organizations and communities that n generate value and mutual enrichment.
Advertising and media professional
nada afforded Milena Marques-Zachariah the perfect platform to combine her creativity with compassion when she landed here in 1999, armed with years of advertising experience in Mumbai and Dubai. She started volunteering her time and expertise as soon as she arrived at the Srborough Women’s Centre and the Breastfeeding Association of nada.
Understanding that the emerging multicultural landspe of nada needed professionals to help advertisers connect effectively with diverse ethnic groups, she started her successful creative consultancy, Out of my Mind. She was one of the pioneers in multicultural marketing, helping national and multinational companies understand the importance of cultural connect.
Marques-Zachariah is also a published short story writer, blogger and columnist. Her observations on life for new immigrants led her to create the column ‘Confessions of an Immigrant Housewife’ for the Weekly Voice newspaper. Her blog, ‘nadian Chronicles,’ records the journey of ordinary folk who’ve overcome extraordinary challenges to settle in their new home. Her other blog, ‘Chasing the Perfect Curry,’ introduced foodies to the yet unexplored part of India’s incredibly varied cuisine on the Konkan coast, now extended to curry chases in and around Toronto.
Marques-Zachariah created waves by creating, producing and hosting the first radio program in Konkani in North Ameri, providing a platform for nada’s Konkani speaking diaspora. Now a not-for-profit, this podst is available to listeners across the globe.
Currently she’s the senior editor at Liisbeth, an online magazine for enterprising feminists looking to connect, grow and flourish. She is president of the board of directors of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Peel-Halton, empowering and providing coping strategies and opportunities to women who are at risk, or in conflict with the law. She also mentors new immigrants at the Dixie-Bloor Neighbourhood Centre.
She’s been recognized for her commitment to the community by the Mangalorean Association of nada, Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre and Absolutely Fabulous Women.
When she’s not travelling, Marques-Zachariah loves reading and doing yoga sun salutations.
CEO, Edution Consultants nada Inc.
Sanchari Sen Rai is an immigrant entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Edution Consultants nada (ECC) Inc. and a licensed immigration consultant who helps international students work through the onerous process of applying to study in nada.
ECC provides a one-stop-shop solution for international students who want uncomplited access to international edution. Being a bootstrapping small business growing organilly, Sen Rai has embedded diversity and inclusion within the team that comprises 90 per cent of women who were international students. ECC gives a chance to the novice as a new hire, especially ex-international students with internship opportunities. ECC has recruited international students who were interns as full-time employees.
Having immigrated in 2010 from India, Sen Rai had an ademic degree in hospitality with more than 15 years of experience working overseas. She believes it is vitally important and a social obligation for businesses to give back to the community all that one has learned and earned when one is able to do so to create empowering teams and individuals. In light of the challenges faced by international students with the pandemic over the past years, she had been trying to make an impact by pivoting the business, creating jobs and internship opportunities for international students. She is also actively associated as a mentor with three different organization volunteering her time for immigrant women, high school girls, international students and newcomers to the country.
Her goal is to make an impact through coaching, mentoring and guidance to other young women who come to nada as international students or new immigrants and aspire to build a reer for themselves, integrate and settle.
She has been awarded as one of nada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award 2019 (Entrepreneur tegory).
Senior engineer and entrepreneur
Damineh Akhavan, P.Eng., was born in the post-revolution pre-war Iran. Her father would read her stories about life, social issues and humanity as she stared at the beautiful Tehran night sky. That is when her love affair with the sky and space started. At three, Akhavan wanted to be an astronaut as she watched Sally Ride aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. By eight, Akhavan wanted to be an astronomer to discover a habitable planet, an engineer to build a spacecraft, and an astronaut to fly all underprivileged people to her planet on her spacecraft. This goal resulted in her parents moving to nada when she was 17 and paved the way for her endeavours as a dedited professional and an outstanding community leader.
Akhavan holds a B.Eng. in mechanil engineering, a B.Sc. in physics, and an MBA in international business. She is a senior engineer at De Havilland Aircraft of nada and a Transport nada Designated Engineer leading support of the world’s de Havilland legacy and CL water bomber aircraft in structural repairs, extensive in-service and production modifitions, accident damage assessments and aircraft incident investigations for over 16 years. Her work is greatly valued as the fleet of aircraft she supports provide essential services such as firefighting activities, medevac support, search and rescue missions, and coastal surveillance.
In addition, Akhavan is a founder and CEO of Global Women in STEM Inc. promoting equality for women and other equity deserving groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through edution, advocy, and action for a world where they have access to equal opportunities, and inclusive and diverse environments to achieve their full potential.
Akhavan has been an incredible advote for equity, diversity, and inclusion for and advancement of women in STEM, and an exemplary champion for women in Engineering for the past 17 years. She is also passionate about involvement of children and youth in STEM subjects, a passion that has grown especially after becoming a mother. Her exceptional service to the lol, provincial, national, and international communities n be seen in her tireless endeavours and incredible mentorship efforts with numerous organizations. For her great service to the aerospace industry, Akhavan was recognized as a leading woman in aerospace in nada at the SI AERO13 Women in Aerospace. For her outstanding professional achievements and exemplary community contributions, Akhavan has been awarded the prestigious University of Victoria Distinguished Alumni President’s Award and the inaugural University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business “Spirit of Ali” award.
Christopher San Juan immigrated to nada in 2005 and landed his first job as a full-time night cleaner in Walmart and a part-time stocker in Extra Foods. He worked his way up and got his first supervisory position in Extra Foods and with his hard work, passion, determination and his affinity for leadership he was promoted as grocery manager, assistant manager and as a store manager thereafter. Topher’s years of dedition and passion culminated in becoming the first Filipino franchise owner of NOFRILLS in Western nada, which opened in 2015 in Winnipeg. He was the owner of Topher’s NOFRILLS until he retired from the business this month.
Over the last seven years as owner, he has made meaningful impact through his work supporting and uplifting various community initiatives including Spence Neighbourhood Association, Siloam Mission, ncer re Manitoba, Main Street Project, Health Sciences Centre, Little People of Manitoba, Immigrant Centre and the Misericordia Health Centre. San Juan has been awarded various accolades within NOFRILLS organization including 2017 Community Leader Award with “My NoFrills,” the 2018 Community Leader Award for his support to the Balikbayan Program for the Filipino community and the 2018 Community Leadership Award for his work supporting the We know Lol program.
San Juan’s contribution to the community has not been left unnoticed. He received an Outstanding Large Business Award in 2017 from Manitoba Filipino Business Council. In June 2019, during nada’s very first National Philippine Heritage Month, San Juan was recognized for his valuable role and signifint contribution in the Filipino-nadian heritage community in Winnipeg. He also received an Employer Achievement Award from Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba for his contribution to the economic empowerment of newcomers to Manitoba.
San Juan believes in the value and potential of all newcomers. He values diversity in his workplace, he believes that having diverse employees in the store makes all customers feel welcomed and included thus creating a welcoming environment and community.
In his personal time, he loves spending time with his wife of 14 years, Janice, and their two daughters, llista and Chloe. He is now also pursuing a new entrepreneurial venture.
Dean, Faculty of Science, York University
Rui Wang, PhD, has been the dean of the Faculty of Science of York University since 2020. ?He was interim vice-president research and innovation as well as inaugural deputy provost Markham of York University (2018-2020).
During 2004-2018, he was vice-president research of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury consecutively.?Prior to 2004, Wang was a professor of physiology at Université de Montréal and at University of Saskatchewan.?Born and raised in China where he completed his medicine training, Wang received his PhD in 1990 from University of Alberta. He beme a nadian citizen in 1994.
Wang is an international leader in the biomedil study of a gas molecule, hydrogen sulfide (H2S).? He has published 298 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals and edited three books.?Being named one of the world’s Top 2% Scientists for reer impact, his publitions on H2S biology and medicine have received the highest total citations in this field in the world.?He has given 172 lectures and keynotes around the world and trained more than 125 graduate students and other research personnel.?His H2S research has fundamentally changed and impacted on our understanding and practice in H2S-related health and disease management.
Among numerous awards/recognitions he received are Fellow of the Royal Society of nada, the Federation of nadian Chinese Professionals (Ontario) Award of Merit, Fellow of the nadian Ademy of Health Sciences, Pfizer Senior Scientist Award from the nadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Fellow of the Amerin Heart Association.
Wang’s volunteer and public and community contributions are manifested through his numerous leadership roles. He had been the president of nadian Physiology Society, inaugural chair of Pan-Northern Mining Research Alliance, and a member of more than 20 board of directors for research, innovation and economic development organizations in nada. He advoted an environmental revitalization initiative in Sudbury, namely Sudbury Protocol. He also served as a member of the Mayor’s Health Sector Task Force for Thunder Bay.
In Saskatoon, Wang was a ptain of “Big Bike” for fundraising activity for Heart and Stroke Foundation and a judge of a regional science fair.
Entrepreneur, ?Moving2nada.com / Outpost Recruitment
Country of origin: Ireland?
Winner of the 2019 Small Business BC Best Immigrant Entrepreneur award, Ruairi Spillane first immigrated to Vancouver in 2008. Initially working in finance, he beme frustrated after the global financial crisis and wanted to do something more meaningful. As a newcomer, he was curious about how other newcomers settled in nada. Spillane began researching success factors that allowed newcomers to settle quicker, and realized that access to independent, quality information had a huge impact on newcomers’ transition to life in nada.
Instead of being a gatekeeper of information, Spillane set out to change the game and build a free, independent platform, working with partners who value being part of the newcomer experience. In 2012, Moving2nada.com was born and would soon attract a motivated newcomer community, armed with the knowledge they need to be successful in nada. In the dede since, many people around the world have used Moving2nada to learn more about this country and the success factors that go into building a dream life here.
As a newcomer-led organization, Moving2nada helps recent and potential newcomers to develop a personalized success strategy, connecting them with relevant information, products and services as they navigate a life-changing journey. Moving2nada’s popular email roadmaps, planning tools and expert articles continue to help thousands of new and future nadians on their own path to success.
Spillane’s other business, Outpost Recruitment, also has a newcomer focus — placing international talent with nada’s leading construction firms.
Spillane mentors marginalized newcomers, including an Ethiopian refugee who was launching a business in nada. Through the Immigrant Services Society of BC, Spillane has mentored immigrant entrepreneurs and volunteered to speak at seminars.
In 2018, Spillane was co-founder of the Ireland-nada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver and served as president from 2019 to 2021, promoting increased trade between Ireland and nada.
In 2021, Spillane raised more than $5,000 by “sleeping out” for Covenant House. In May 2022 he will run the Vancouver Marathon and raise funds for Pieta House, a suicide prevention organization in Ireland.
Secretary-General of the nadian Commission for UNESCO
Country of origin: Djibouti
Named one of the 10 most influential Francophones in nada by Francophone media in January 2022, Roda Muse proudly serves as Secretary-General of the nadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Edutional, Scientific and Cultural Organization) where she is actively in charge of implementing the UNESCO’s priorities in nada.
Among her many achievements was the partnership she struck in the early 2000s with the City of Ottawa, the federal public service and the Centre d’Intégration, de Formation et de Développement économique (CIFODE) to support the integration of visible minority professionals into the federal public service.
In 2003, she co-founded Fondation Acia, a charitable organization dedited to fostering excellence in young visible minority Francophones through edution and mentoring.
Muse was the first BIPOC elected as a school board trustee in the Francophone system in Ottawa. Since then, three others have joined the two main Francophone school boards. She is also a member of the board of directors of Montfort Hospital and a member of the board of directors of the Consortium Centre Jules-Léger, a Francophone provincial institution offering special edution in Ontario for children with severe learning disabilities or who are Deaf or hard of hearing, who are blind or low vision or who are deafblind.
During her more than 20 years reer in the federal public service, she received many awards, the most recent being: the 2021 Assistant Deputy Minister Sector Head Merit Award for the implementation of the Universal Broadband Fund’s Rapid Response Stream (RRS) and the 2017 Deputy Minister Merit Award for her exceptional leadership (nada 150) at the Department of Innovation, Science and Industry. In 2020, she was also the recipient of the Saphir, in the Professional tegory, one of the most prestigious prizes in the Franco-Ontarian community.
Although her professional reer is demanding, Muse has been and continues to be equally dedited to her community as a volunteer and mentor.
Chair, Department of Dance, York University
?Recipient of the York University’s highest teaching award, the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award for the senior full-time faculty tegory, Patrick Alcedo is a dance researcher, a specialist on Philippine traditional dances and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He is the chair of and a full professor in the Department of Dance at York University, the most comprehensive department of its kind in nada. He is the first racialized minority to have ever held the position of chair of this department, which was founded in 1972.
The Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, through the Commission on Filipino Overseas, will confer on him this year the Pamana Presidential Award. Meaning “legacy and heritage” in the Tagalog language, Pamana is “conferred on overseas Filipino individuals, who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honour and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.”
Among Alcedo’s many recognitions are a Rockefeller Humanities Foundation Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, an Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario, and a Selma Jeanne Cohen Award for International Dance Scholarship from the Fulbright Association of Ameri.?His PhD in dance history and theory is from the University of lifornia, Riverside, under the auspices of the Asian Cultural Council’s Ford Foundation Grant.
His documentary film, A Piece of Paradise, won Best nadian Film and Best First Feature Film at the 2017 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival — the first back-to-back win in the festival’s 21-year history. World premiering at the 2021 nnes International Independent Film Festival, his They ll Me Dax is a short documentary about a 15-year-old girl trying to survive as a ballet dancer in Manila. This year’s official selection at the Sydney World Film Festival, it received the 2021 Best Foreign Short Documentary Film from the San Francisco Short Film Festival. His other documentary, the feature-length, A Will to Dream, was an official selection at the 2021 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and won Asia’s Best Documentary Film at the All Asian Independent Film Festival that same year.
Architect and urban planner
Country of origin: Israel
Naama Blonder has a bold vision: to change what good housing n and should look like in a growing city like Toronto; with that in mind, she co-founded Smart Density.
Her professional practice combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and urban design to bring a deeper, more realistic understanding of how cities n address housing affordability and champion inclusive neighbourhoods with more equitable access to housing. Her work has received numerous awards including the prestigious Ontario Association of Architects’ Best Emerging Practice Award for 2022.
Blonder is known for her contributions to public discourse on Missing Middle housing, which refers to a need for more types of housing that fall between the two extremes of single-detached houses on large lots and large residential towers. Recognizing that antagonistic discussions about increased urban density tend to be fraught with misconceptions, Blonder communites complex issues in a concise manner through her online edutional content while advoting for her vision of appropriate housing through media outreach.
To fight stigma around housing, Blonder’s work seeks to inform both residents and industry colleagues about the mutually beneficial outcomes of reimagining what our big cities n look like: greater access to established public transport, shortened commutes, improved housing costs and vancy rates, greater diversity in housing, and strengthened lol economies and communities.
As a volunteer, Blonder is a subject-matter expert for the City of Toronto “Expanding Housing Options in our Neighbourhoods” committee, a board member of affordable housing provider Kehilla, has co-authored the Housing Affordability Report of the Ontario Association of Architects, and served at the Design Review Panel of the City of Burlington where she provided urban design advice for development applitions.
Since immigrating from Tel Aviv, Israel to Toronto, Ontario, eight years ago, Blonder has become a licensed architect and a registered urban planner, and co-founded her business which has expanded into an influential seven-employee firm.
She practises what she preaches, living with her husband and two children in a multi-family building in a transit-accessible area of Toronto, where the park is their backyard.
Filmmaker, artist and activist
Mostafa Keshvari is a well-rounded activist filmmaker and a member of the Director’s Guild of nada, the Writer’s Guild of nada, the nadian Media Producer Association and the Federation of nadian Artists.
Within only a few years of becoming an immigrant, Keshvari’s films?have?won more than 75 global awards and nominations, including Golden Sheaf awards and five Leo Award nominations. His works?have been screened five times at the nnes Film Festival Short Corner and other Osr-qualifying film festivals such as Hollyshorts, Yorkton and Edmonton Film Festival.
His films primarily address important social issues such as racism (Colorblind 2022, Corona 2020), the refugee crisis (The Will and the Wall 2020), women’s rights (Unmasked 2018), human rights (Child Bride 2019), and climate change (Eternal Igloo 2022).?As the main creative force, his films range from feature films to shorts and animation and have been spotlighted in the New York Times, BBC, the Guardian, The Times, Hollywood Reporter, GQ, CBC, The Global News, and more than 100 global media.
Keshvari founded the BC Minorities for Film and TV Society in 2019, one of the first non-profit organizations in B.C. that?promotes?diversity and inclusion in the film industry. He has collaborated with a diverse range of underrepresented artists from?Black, Asian, Inuit, First Nation, Latino and Iranian communities throughout his reer. He also?worked as a BMO financial manager prior to perusing his filmmaking dreams. Keshvari holds three degrees in?physics and?mathematics,?the arts,?as well as film production.
Keshvari is also a published poet and professional surreal painter, and his paintings on climate change have been exhibited at the 100th anniversary of the?Group of Seven exhibition as well as David Suzuki’s Crisis exhibition.
Transformation leader and TEDx speaker
City: Regina, Saskatchewan / Mississauga, Ontario
Named a CPA Ontario Emerging Leader in 2020, a recipient of PwC nada’s CEO Award in 2014 and a two-time TEDx speaker, Fahad Meer has rved out a niche as a prominent voice and leader within the workplace and the community.
Meer is a Director within PwC’s National Strategy and Operations team, where he helps develop and manage the firm’s transformational initiatives. Although his interest lies in strategy and transformation, his passion is found in mentoring, coaching and inspiring young professionals in the firm to become future business leaders. He fulfils his passion by serving as a regular speaker on diverse panels and teaching business and soft skills to young professionals across the country.
Beyond work, Meer’s reer is marked by a desire to give back to the community — a responsibility he embraces as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a nadian immigrant. He has previously served as the President of the nada Pakistan Professionals Association and a judge for the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence. He is currently the Treasurer for a large registered NPO in Saskatchewan and is also the Deputy Chair of CPA Ontario’s Discipline Committee, where he decides on the sanctions for CPAs that have committed professional misconduct.
Raised in Saudi Arabia and born to Pakistani parents, he immigrated to nada in 2004. He has proudly considered nada to be his home as it has given him and his family endless opportunities alongside comfort and a sense of belonging.
Overcoming personal hardship and struggles early in his life, he has not shied away from sharing his personal experiences to inspire youth and adults across the country. He serves as a regular keynote speaker for high schools, universities and broader community-based organizations across the country and has most recently delivered his second TEDx talk.
Having been profiled in nada’s Top 100 Employers, Globe and Mail, Metro News and a McGraw Hill textbook on Organisational Behaviour, he is humbled by what nada has provided to him and his family and promises to inspire and create a similar path for other immigrants in the country.
Non-profit senior manager; JEDI practitioner
City: Burnaby, BC
Country of origin: Pakistan
Pakistani-nadian Mariam Bilgrami has worked in various fields from collecting and archiving oral history, cultural poverty alleviation and social justice advocy, providing access to reproductive health in rural areas of Pakistan, pre-literacy programs for adults, to working with refugee families and their children in settlement, early childhood development and preschool orientation.?With 20+ years of experience in social work and international and community development, she has been working in the B.C. settlement sector with immigrants, newcomers and refugees since she arrived in nada.
She is currently the senior manager, innovation, advocy and engagement at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society in Surrey, B.C., and has been the lead behind DIVERSEcity’s management of the Surrey Lol Immigration Partnership.
Through her work with DIVERSEcity and the Surrey LIP, she recently facilitated the development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Toolkit for service providers to gain understanding on the specific mental health needs of newcomer populations. She oversaw the development of the Racism Mapping Project, a community-led research project that gathers data around racism and hate incidents taking place in Surrey, B.C. She also led the development of the award-winning?“Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers,” a resource seeking to uplift and amplify the voices of the land-based Nations that Surrey occupies, uncover hard truths, construct a foundation for shared understanding, and continue the important work of building solidarity between the Indigenous and newcomer communities.
She was recently a mentor at Science World’s Girls & STEAM event for girls ages 14–16 to explore dream reers and connect with inspiring mentors and experts. She has been nominated for the Surrey Board of Trade Innovation Awards Large Business tegory 2019 for MOSAICS’ SCENE Project (Social and Civic Engagement for Newcomers and Immigrants) and awarded a bursary to attend the 2019 Women Deliver conference in Vancouver.
Bilgrami feels honoured to be a part of Simon Fraser University’s RADIUS Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certifition and Trampoline Programs as an advisor, where she guides the cohort participants with their ideas and systems change projects and supports them through sharing skills, knowledge and networks.
Bilgrami is also a certified justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) practitioner and consultant specializing in anti-racist and anti-oppressive systems change, and a passionate advote for social justice.
Entrepreneurial artist, lgary Party 50 Corp.
Maria Dina Galura was featured in the inaugural list of “lgarians We Love” by Avenue magazine in 2021. This was a nod to her large-sle balloon art installations for the community.
Back home, she was the lone female warehouseman in the raw materials department of a paper mill. Later on, she moved to be part of the key startup team for Texas Instruments Clark. In lgary, she expanded her reer in oil and gas as a planner/scheduler.
In 2015, she started a side party business, lgary Party 50 beuse she had leftover party supplies from one of her daughter’s birthday parties. She later focused on her childhood love of balloons and started to create large-sle art installations — all from balloons.
Her first installation was for 2017 Beakerhead, an art, science and engineering festival, was along the lgary Transit line where 5,000 white balloons spilled out of nada Legion No. 1 heritage building. For Mother’s Day 2018, her giant confetti balloon graced a magazine’s front cover.
“Dreams Never Die” was presented in fall 2018, a version of the animated movie UP house that went viral, seen in HuffPost nada and lgary Herald. She has continued to create balloon art in Edmonton, lgary, Banff and Lake Louise.? Thousands of balloons were seen at winter festivals, corporate events, charity galas and shopping mall offerings, even at TEDx as an artist in residence. Her passion project is an annual community gift at the architectural maven lgary Central Library, one of Times 100 Places to Visit in 2019.
Galura names her installations with Tagalog words as a tribute to her roots. In CBC’s Kapitbahay (neighbour in Tagalog) Series, she was featured for her Iskrambol (Ice Scramble) winter installation in 2021.
Her balloon work has been repeatedly shared by Qualatex, the leading balloon manufacturer in the U.S. and nada.
Along with her husband and three daughters, they love day trips to the Rockies. Galura lls lgary home for 10 years and wants to do continuing edution to complement her certifite of project management from University of lgary, Bachelor of science in industrial engineering and masters in management from the University of the Philippines.
Owner, AKAL Mortgages, Inc.
Recently awarded the lifetime achievement award by the nadian Mortgage Awards, Kuljit Singh is the owner and founder of Mississauga-based AKAL Mortgages Inc., founded in 2007. His company employs more than 250 individuals and has been recognized as one of the top brokerages for three consecutive years.
Having moved to nada from India in 1992 with a mere $20 in his pocket, from working menial labour jobs to landing a mid-management job and then founding and running a successful business, Singh has proven that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success. In his words, “Persistence is the key to success in our professional and personal lives. Never give up and stay true to your desired course.”
His co-workers and colleagues describe Singh as “one of those rare leaders whose moral compass is driven by the principles of stewardship.” During his 20 years in the mortgage industry, his passion for achieving professional excellence has been recognized through multiple awards and accolades. He is currently serving as a director of Mortgage Professionals nada.
His devotion to do good and make the world a better place is not limited to his professional life. Singh is actively associated with various philanthropic endeavours. For example, through his association with DISHA – South Asian Women’s Organization, he has actively mpaigned against female foeticide and gender inequality within immigrant communities.
Through his association with various other non-profit organizations, Singh has actively worked on promoting peace, diversity, inclusion and cross-cultural understanding among different ethnic and religious groups. He has also been raising awareness on diabetes, ncer and mental health issues in minority and immigrant communities.
Singh is very passionate about eduting and helping international students to overcome cultural and language barriers to enhance their skill sets and prepare for further edution and employment. He has made it a mission of his life to bring about meaningful change for minorities in the Peel region.
A father of three and living in Brampton, Singh has lled nada home for almost 30 years. He is a registered pharmacist in India and holds a PhD in sociology.
Jatinder Chadha has been recognized numerous times for his work in the community. Hon. Governor General David Johnson awarded him the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteer in 2016. He received Ottawa Mayor’s City Builder Award, United Way’s Community Builder Award, Minister (MPP) Lisa Macleod’s nada 150, and MP Chandra Arya’s nada 150 medal. Chadha has also been recently appointed to Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Grant review committee.
Chadha migrated to nada with his parents and younger brother at a young age of 16 with a big dream. For a young teenager arriving in a complete foreign county in late ’90s, Chadha faced many challenges. Usually at that age, teenagers get to experience life’s most cherish moments with their childhood friends and high school colleagues, but life had different plans for him at that time. Shortly after arrival, he was faced with survival challenge as both his parents didn’t speak English and couldn’t get any jobs. Chadha took upon the challenge to start his first job as a dishwasher at lol restaurant while attending high school. Gradually, he moved to other positions such as baker, shier, salesman while attending night school to complete his graduation.
Upon graduation, he got a position at JDS Uniphase and ended his reer as a trainer prior to the tech meltdown in early 2000s. Thereon, Chadha started driving a b overnight for 12 hours to support his family. He continued his quest for higher edution while working night shifts. He took HR management courses at Algonquin College and rleton University to continually develop his skillset. Shortly afterward, Chadha got a position as a bus operator at OC Transpo in 2003 and gradually moved up the ladder.
Chadha is currently working a program manager with City of Ottawa overseeing rail operations with annual budget of over $70 million. Chadha is a highly motivated, ambitious and passionate community leader. Since early 2000, he has been instrumental in building strong community presence over the years. He has served on many non-profit organization’s boards including India nada Association, Barrhaven Foodbank, East Barrhaven community association and Punjabi Community Health Services
Country of origin: Malaysia
Henry Leong Bee Lee first me to Toronto in 1978 as a consul for Malaysia for three years. He fell in love with nada and returned to Toronto as a landed immigrant in 1987. Finding a suitable job that is relevant to his qualifition and experience was a struggle in the first few years. He got a break in 1994 when the Ontario International Trade and subsequently some Ontario corporations appointed him as a consultant to explore and develop business opportunities in Southeast Asia, notably Malaysia. After two years, he joined CIBC as an investment specialist and subsequently Dominion securities. He retired seven years ago.
Currently, Lee is the honorary consul for Malaysia in Toronto.
The following are other organizations Lee is involved in in various pacities:
Lee has received a number of community awards for his contributions and volunteerism, including:
A champion of multiculturalism indeed, for the last 10 years, Lee spearheaded and organized the Outstanding Asian nadian Awards during the Asian Heritage Month. On the charity front, Lee played an active role in a number of international disaster relief fundraising events such as the Sichuan and Haiti earthquake, Philippines’ typhoon, Japanese and Southeast Asia tsunami. One of his greatest achievements was organizing the first-ever Asian all-stars benefit concert for the Srborough hospitals.
Lee was picked as the nadian representative to speak on the subject of opportunity and hope at a time of crisis at the International Leadership Conference held at Bangkok in 2020, together with a number of world leaders.
Founder and director, nadian Advisory of Women Immigrants
Hani Rukh E Qamar is the founder and director of the nadian Advisory of Women Immigrants (WI), a youth-led NPO dedited to empowering immigrant women. She immigrated to nada in 2011 with her family from Pakistan. Currently, she is pursuing a BSc. in psychology with a double minor in health geography and international development studies at McGill University.
Just 20 years old, she is on the advisory table at the Regina Region Lol Immigration Partnership (RRLIP), and she also works as a global policy liaison at the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP). Recently, she was invited to be a part of the Reference Group at PMNCH for Adolescent Well-Being in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, she also serves on the Steering Committee for Women in Global Health (WGH), which is in collaboration with the nadian Association for Global Health (GH).
She has received various awards for her work, such as the Srlet Key Society and MIMH’s Champion of Mental Health Award. Her work has also been published in the news, especially in the context of her nonprofit work with immigrant women and girls. This year, she is also supporting the nadian Delegation to the Commission on Population and Development as a youth delegate. Additionally, she works on research topics related to mental and sexual health, especially in contexts of immigrant, youth and BIPOC communities.
She is passionate about equitable access to health re, social determinants of health, and the rights of immigrants and refugees.
Dr. Sivakumar Gulasingam is a physil medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician attached to University Health Network’s (UHN) Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) and an assistant professor at University of Toronto (UofT).
After working as a lead physician at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Sri Lanka, Gulasingam immigrated to nada in 2008. He completed the nadian licensing exams and a residency training in PM&R at the UofT to be awarded “Fellow” (FRCP(C)), Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of nada in 2016.
Other than his clinil work, Gulasingam contributes to the field of PM&R through his many roles which include nadian Association of PM&R’s Chair – International Rehabilitation Special Interest Group and National Lead PM&R Residency Exams, National PM&R Representative for International Society of PM&R, SCI High content expert and a number of positions with UofT PM&R Residency program.
As an international medil graduate (IMG), he has been an advote for internationally eduted professionals (IEP), and continues to share his experience with IEPs and IMGs entering medil and alternative reer pathways. He has been a tutor/facilitator for HealthForceOntario IMG study groups, healthre panelist and a “Successful IEP” panelist at the National IEP Conferences, keynote speaker at the Bridges Collaborative Forum, for Ontario’s newcomer service organizations and have addressed many IMG forums.
Gulasingam strongly believes in empowering people with disabilities through sports. His volunteer roles as national trainer & para-athletics classifier with Athletics nada, head of classifition for Wheel-Dance nada, International Paralympic Committee classifier for World Para-Athletics and World Para-Dance Sports (WPDS), International Trainer WPDS, Classifition Director and head of Multisport Classifition – Toronto Invictus Games (2017) for war veterans would attest to that.
Gulasingam is a recipient of many prestigious awards including Outstanding and Innovation/Contribution to Clinil Edution – TRI, UHN (2021), Michael Gordon Award for Humanism in Medicine – DOM, UofT (2020), Post Graduate Medil Trainee Leadership Award – DOM, UofT (2016) and the Most Outstanding Young Persons of the Year – Humanitarian and Voluntary Services, Junior Chambers International (JCI), Sri Lanka (2004).
He lives in Toronto with his wife Anuja and three children, Abhinya, Ashvini and Ambhikesh.
Professor emeritus and program chair, McMaster Contemporary Medil Acupuncture Program
Country of origin: Slovakia
As a female doctor, visionary and role model, Professor Emeritus Dr. Angeli Fargas-Babjak has inspired many people in her 50 + year reer as an esteemed anesthesiologist, pain specialist and instructor at McMaster University Medil Centre. She has continued to transform the delivery and approach of health re in nada and internationally by researching and implementing new approaches in non-pharmacologil pain management. As a young physician in the former Communist Czechoslovakia, it was during the historil 1968 Prague Spring, when the Soviet armies brutally invaded her country that she courageously immigrated to nada and faced a set of new challenges.
After having learned English and completing her medil exams, during her residency in anaesthesia at McMaster University, Dr. Fargas-Babjak attended a workshop on acupuncture for headaches led by the Acupuncture Foundation of nada Institute (AFCI). Having struggled with migraines herself, she began to develop an interest in non-pharmacologil pain management and began to study acupuncture by travelling to the Far East to further develop her knowledge. It was in 1984 that she first established the Acupuncture/Pain Clinic at the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre (HHSC), as a part of the McMaster multidisciplinary Pain Management Program to help chronic pain patients. She firmly believed that the rational incorporation of acupuncture as a peripheral nerve stimulation technique, as well as other treatment methods into modern health re delivery, would enhance long-term improvement of health and function in the aging population.
Facing many obstacles in her reer, as a newcomer and as a woman in a traditionally male dominant field, Dr. Fargas-Babjak took the initiative to learn about an unknown and misunderstood practice and used a holistic approach to manage pain. As a past president of the AFCI and of the nadian Contemporary Acupuncture Association, Fargas-Babjak has published numerous medil articles, has lectured at conferences and has actively pursued research in anaesthesia, acupuncture and pain management. She has been involved in the undergraduate and postgraduate edution in the HHSC.
She was awarded with the J.F. Purkinje Society Medal for contributions in the field of acupuncture (1988) and the prize of Humanitarianism from the Open International University of Medicina Alternativa (1989). In 1998, Dr. Fargas-Babjak co-founded and launched the Contemporary Medil Acupuncture Program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. With Dr. Elorriaga Claraco, they made it their mission to enhance the position of acupuncture in the medil community and to create a high-level, science-based international program. Running successfully for the past 24 years, over 2,000 professionals have already benefited from this program. Dr. Fargas-Babjak continues to be the program chair. Being a trailblazer and a true pioneer, her ongoing dedition, her innovation, and her vision of eduting health professionals using research-based complimentary treatment methods and to have acupuncture become part of mainstream medicine, has made an impact in the medil community in nada and worldwide. She has left a lasting legacy where she has made a difference in the lives of the people she has touched.
President, Access Empowerment Council
Diana Alli D’Souza, born in Mumbai, India, has lled nada her home, a land of many opportunities for 47 years.
Her indefatigable journey has been unstoppable as a trailblazer, serving the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto (UofT) for nearly four dedes, and since her retirement in 2012, with her immeasurable contributions internationally especially in Rishikesh, Himalayas, as president, Access Empowerment Council “inspiring our kids, serving our elderly globally.”
Her emboldening initiatives reaches 3 NGOs and an Ashram as a beloved English teacher and philanthropist helping the most marginalized Indigenous children/youth. Her groundbreaking work at UofT founding and co-founding over 21 outreach programs in the GTA amplifying her visionary work of strengthening the pillars of diversity, inclusion, social justice and humanitarianism reaching out to underserved, underrepresented, vulnerable and racialized populations.
She has spearheaded large-sle global benefit concerts through utihp. – raising tens of thousands of dollars for destitute children around the globe. As lead administrator with interdisciplinary students of UTIHP’s Books with Wings, medil textbooks have filled libraries in war-torn and developing countries: Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere; lolly children’s storybooks have made its way to the Indigenous Southwestern Library through the Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman Program.
She has served on numerous illustrious Boards: UofT’s Governing Council, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (nada), Change Your Future and Woodgreen Community Services. A recipient of numerous meritorious accolades including more than a dozen UofT Medil Alumni graduation awards for role-modeling, compassion and excelling students’ experiences; U of T’s Centre for Health Promotion individual award for her passion, dedition, and commitment in serving the physil, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of students and beyond, and UofT’s top Chancellor and Arbor Awards.
She has been honoured by lol and national organizations for her indelible outreach leadership and student advocy, the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the province’s highest honour “Order of Ontario.” At her retirement, three perpetual awards were set in her honor, UofT Diana Alli Medil Student Graduation Award, the national Diana Alli CITAC Award to an MD/PhD student, and UTIHP’s Lifetime Membership on the Advisory Board.
Founder and editor in chief
City: Oakville, Ontario
Cristina rpio is a media personality, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She was the editor in chief of a national lifestyle publition, MarQuee Magazine and this year, she started her own company, Evolve Media Group Inc. which includes a national magazine publition, Evolve Magazine. The entire brand is designed to help nadians live their best life. rpio is determined to use the Evolve platform to help make a difference, amplify voices and promote inclusion and diversity.
rpio first me to nada at 16 years old and was sponsored by her aunt on a student visa. After years of hard work, she got her landed immigrant status and nadian citizenship, which remain some of her most memorable moments. rpio me to nada to espe poverty in her homeland. She also taught herself the English language and read the English dictionary repeatedly in hopes to pursue a reer in media and journalism.
For more than 10 years, rpio has been in the media and lifestyle space. She has worked with top luxury brands and collaborated with many top creatives, contributors, and some of nada’s leading networks and talents. A broadst-journalism graduate, rpio has worked at leading networks like CTV News and Global News and appears on national nadian television programs as a TV Lifestyle Expert. Over the years, she has contributed articles to several international media platforms, was a columnist for Food and Beverage Magazine, and hosts some of Toronto’s most notable events.
Currently, rpio is also a host of a travel show lled Going Global TV on Amazon Prime and Roku. She brings a wealth of experience in brand strategy, content creation and creating memorable experiences with over a dede of experience in marketing and hospitality.
rpio has been awarded Top 40 Under 40 for business achievement by Business Media Link Group, Hero of Business Award from the nadian Multicultural Council-Asians in Ontario, Service Award from the Universal Peace Federation and other recognitions. rpio is an active member of the Asian community in nada and has worked with many not-for-profit groups and underrepresented communities for almost two dedes.
LGBTQ+ settlement practitioner / LGBTQ+ Newcomers Edmonton co-lead
Country of origin: Syria
When the war in Syria began in 2011, the life Basel Abou Hamrah knew was turned upside down. The year 2012 was a difficult one, starting with the demise of his father, and then shortly afterward, he suffered severe injuries from a major road accident. Surviving multiple surgeries, he woke from a coma with a broken spirit. His future seemed uncertain, and his dreams were shattered.
After fleeing Syria to Lebanon, he and his family made their way to nada in 2015. Having lost their home and fearing their safety, they were left with nothing but each other.? He realized then that life didn’t give up on him and that he should use the new beginning as an opportunity to give back and help others.
The second day after arriving in nada, he volunteered with Edmonton Emergency Relief, sorting donations to support other refugees. Shortly after, he volunteered as an Arabic translator with Edmonton Public Library. In 2016, he began work with Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers as a Syrian community connector. Later, he worked as a seniors community connector to support elderly newcomers.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ newcomers’ community, he found it hard to connect with others from the community and realized there were no resources available.? In May 2017, he and two friends created the LGBTQ+ Newcomers Group, a social support group to help members build a community of their own and be a family to each other. Later that year, he led the creation of Rainbow Refuge, the first program of its kind in Alberta to support LGBTQ+ community members with immigration and settlement. He has served as a board member of the Edmonton Men’s Health collective, currently sits on the CCR Inland Protection Committee, and is a member of the Rainbow Coalition for Refugees.
As the recipient of the Stonewall 2021 Newcomers and Refugees Award, he is a strong advote for the needs of the LGBTQ+ newcomer community. Helping others be their authentic selves able to thrive in their new home. Since arriving in nada, he has renewed optimism and a new perspective on living a purposeful life.
Entrepreneur, community organizer, mentor
City: Toronto and Mississauga
Country of origin: Brazil
Arnon Melo believes opportunity is everything. He me from Brazil, alone, more than 30 years ago and worked survival jobs (like fast food, cleaning and retail), but quickly realized the way to get ahead was a nadian edution. Supporting himself, he graduated with honours from Sene College and now sits on their Professional Advisory Committee. After college he landed a role as a paid intern at a multinational shipping company.
A dede later he established his own freight forwarding company MELLOHAWK Logistics, which today is an award-winning international shipping company with offices in Mississauga, Miami, Sao Paulo and 65 agent partners around the world. Melo sits on the national board of the nadian International Freight Forwarding Association (CIFFA) and is a regular mentor to Trade Accelerator programs, helping entrepreneurs at all levels grow and internationalize their companies and promote trade diversity, diversity and inclusion, and the nadian brand.
MELLOHAWK is a mini-united nations with all staff, but one, born outside nada (India, Brazil, Vietnam, Philippines). MELLOHAWK is often the first reer job for newcomers. As a former intern Melo appreciates the value of creating opportunity and on-the-job training. MELLOHAWK Logistics has won awards from Mississauga Board of Trade, Access Employment, the nadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, but Arnon is most proud that MELLOHAWK Logistics staff have been twice named Young Freight Forwarder of the Year by the nadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA).
Working hard helps understand the value of giving back. Melo sits on the board of Abrigo Centre and has completed two full terms as an elected volunteer member of the CONCID, the Brazilian Citizenship Council promoting mental health, job search, suicide prevention, entrepreneurship, financial planning and networking.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Council, lead by Melo, assisted in organizing flights, meals and transportation while repatriating 655 stranded families back to Brazil. Melo was awarded the Order of Rio Branco Medal, Brazil’s highest award for promoting the image of Brazil to the world, for his efforts.
Being a leader means making leaders. Providing opportunity is his legacy.
City: North York, Ontario
Country of origin: Albania
Anaida Deti is a dental professional who has built an award-winning business model and now inspires and motivates other dental professionals and women entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
Even though she is only 40 years old, she has gone through a dictatorship, a civil war, three countries and many personal and business challenges.
Her humble beginnings start with her and her husband immigrating to nada from Albania 20 years ago, with pocket change and no English. She worked seven days a week while going to school full time. She started everything from scratch. Her business started with only her, booking appointments in her r until she was able to open her own dental office in 2016. Now she is opening more lotions throughout the province with the next one coming as soon as this fall.
Her story has been considered a success story not only by those that know her, but also by many national and international media. She has been featured in many TV and radio shows, magazines, newspapers, online platforms and many more to share her amazing successful journey and her dental expertise. Deti was featured on Forbes in October last year sharing her business tips on how to be successful. She was selected as one of the 10 Most Influential Business Leaders to Follow in 2020 in North Ameri by PrimeView Magazine. She was also chosen as a one of the Most Successful Business Women to Watch in 2020 by Insight Success, as well as a 100 Best Companies in 2020 from Exeleon Magazine. She was selected as 10 Best Performing CEOs 2020 by the Business Berg.
In 2021, she was awarded as one of the Most Influential Female Entrepreneurs by Woman Entrepreneur Magazine.? Deti has just been chosen as one of the most influential leaders to know in 2022 for Success 125, in honour of the 125th anniversary of the Success Magazine.
She has won many lol, national and international awards, including:
She has been a part of an international book project, The Mind of Female Entrepreneurs by Global Woman. She has been a dental blogger for Huffington Post, Thrive Global and Inside Toronto.
She has founded Mission Kind (Kids In Need of Dentalre), to help children aged six to 16 obtain much needed dental work at no charge. She does a lot of community work by offering free dental re to immigrant families with low income.? Every December her office offers free dental/dental hygiene services to people in need.? Her office has offered free services to 30 people from the Red Door Family Shelter, with a whole day planned for them, with lunch and a magic show, Santa, Christmas gifts and much more.? They have also offered free services to teenager moms that nnot afford dental services.
Deti is also a very proud mom of two beautiful kids, Samuel, 18, and Iliana, 7.
Edutor and instructional designer
City: White Rock, B.C.
Country of origin: Kazakhstan
Aigerim Shilibekova, PhD, is a faculty member of the MBA program and the founding director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence at University nada West in Vancouver, and the president of the nadian Association of Instructional Designers for 2021-2022.
Being a polymath, Shilibekova strongly believes in a lifelong learning and is currently pursuing her second PhD in edutional technology and learning design at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on inclusive online learning practices.
She is also a TEDx speaker and an internationally certified trainer and facilitator with the portfolio of successful workshops and courses, and award-winning programs. In 2015, her innovative project was shortlisted for the global QS Re-imagine Edution 2015 award at Wharton Business School and received a special prize from the sponsors.
Passionate about designing learning experiences and creating a positive impact in her community, Shilibekova has been volunteering as a knowledge philanthropist with Vantage Point, one of the prominent non-profit organizations in Vancouver since 2018 when she arrived in B.C.
Prior to moving to nada, Shilibekova served as the first vice-president at Atyrau State University and the founding director of the Center for International and Regional Studies in Astana for 11 years.
She was a visiting scholar and guest lecturer at leading universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Hamburg and rleton University in Ottawa, and others. She speaks seven languages and is an author and editor of numerous policy papers, articles and four books.
She holds PhD in politil science from Eurasian National University (2009) and is an alumna of the Senior Executives in National and International Security Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2013), and the Rumsfeld Fellowship for Young Leaders (2010). She also holds an Award of Achievement in Intercultural Communition from University of British Columbia (2018).
Shilibekova is a grateful mom of two teenagers who love their new home in nada. They also share her values such as kindness and sharing and strive to contribute to the community they live in B.C. through their art and sports activities.
Country of Origin: Philippines
Loizza Aquino is an 18-year-old social justice activist. She has been involved with social activism since the age of nine, but, in 2015, she started to focus on mental health advocy in 10th grade after she lost one of her best friends to suicide. He was one of four high school students in Winnipeg that died by suicide within the timespan of one month.
After a countless number of hours spent on trying to find answers as to why this was happening, Aquino realized that she needed to stop searching for answers, but instead, create solutions to ensure this would never happen again. This inspired Aquino to create her own youth-led non-profit organization at the age of 15 lled Peace of Mind. Her organization holds events lled Youth Against Metal Health and Illness Stigma (YAMHIS), which provides a safe space and platform for students across the province to share their stories and experiences in regards to mental health.
A handful of high schools across Manitoba have created Peace of Mind groups within their school to sustain mental health conversations throughout the school year. Since 2015, they have reached more than 2,000 students, and have expanded from Manitoba to Ontario. These events have inspired students to get help and have even saved students’ lives.
Aquino has worked alongside a branch of the Government of Manitoba on several projects. She is a public speaker who has received many different accolades for her work in the topic of mental health, online safety and media literacy, youth empowerment and human rights. Her past awards include the Young Humanitarian Award of Manitoba, Global Bayaning Filipino Award, TD Scholarships for Community Leadership and the Youth Premier Healthy Living Award.
Aquino also recently created her own scholarship fund to empower other youth mental health activists and support across nada and the Philippines. Aquino is a student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a double major in mental health studies and international development studies, with a minor in public policy and governance. She hopes to work for the United Nations one day to create policies for mental health across the world.