In honour of Canada Day, ITC News wanted to share some select stories from the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards. These newcomers to Canada have left their mark on their new home in so many ways and what better day to honour them than on Canada Day.
- Founder, Youth Gravity
- City: Toronto
- Country of Origin: Bangladesh
After immigrating from Bangladesh at the age of 10, Sal Sabila was immediately occupied in dismantling every barrier that stopped her from being the best version of herself through volunteer work.
By the age of 20, she has founded two non-profit organizations. The first, Youth Gravity, specializing in mentoring youth to take leadership roles. Her second endeavor is another organization that works to empower women in STEM fields of education.
In recognition of the importance of Youth Gravity’s work, Sabila has recently received an award from the prestigious International Queen’s Commonwealth Trust — an organization headed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — whose mission is to promote the enormous potential of youth to create a better future. In addition to all that, Sabila is pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Toronto.
Ajibola (Jibs) Abitoye
- City councilor and fashion designer
- City: Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
- Country of Origin: Nigeria
Ajibola (Jibs) Abitoye was elected as a councilor for the City of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, in October 2017, five years after immigrating to Canada from Nigeria.
Abitoye has volunteered on the Family & Community Support Services Board, Navy League Cadet and as the chair of the Fort Saskatchewan Multicultural Association within her first year of immigrating to Canada. In 2017, she decided to take her involvement within her community to another level by running for city council. She ran against 14 candidates and emerged with the third highest votes. She is currently serving a four-year term as a city councilor until 2021.
In November 2019, she started a fashion line called Divineity Fashion, after she had her daughter. It was borne out of a need to economically help women in her country of origin, Nigeria. A portion of the profit also goes to a local organization in Alberta supporting victims of domestic violence.
- Director, Aurora Family Therapy Centre
- City: Winnipeg
- Country of Origin: Somalia
Muuxi Adam is a young, former Somali refugee who escaped from the civil war and its horrible aftermath. Adam arrived in Winnipeg in 2004 at age 16 with no family or friends, with the equivalent of a Grade 4 education. Today, Adam is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg in 2013 and currently pursuing a master’s in social work at the University of Manitoba.
Adam has extensive experience working with immigrant and refugee communities in Winnipeg’s inner-city focusing mainly on settlement issues, gang and street crime prevention, and employment opportunities for newcomer youth.
He is a great advocate for the newcomer community especially for youth and he embodies many of the qualities Manitobans take pride in — resilience, working for the community, gratitude, and giving back. Adam also has served on a number of boards and committees in Winnipeg including the Recreation Task Force of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council, the Manitoba Ethno Cultural Advisory and Advocate Council, and the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg. Adam is the director of community development program at Aurora Family Therapy Centre.
Adam is a co-founder of Humankind International Inc., a non-profit organization that seeks to provide free, quality early childhood care and education and other opportunities to refugee and marginalized children in Dadaab camp and its surrounding areas.
- Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Alternative Energy Conversion Systems, SFU
- City: North Vancouver
- Country of Origin: Iran
Majid Bahrami, Ph.D., is a professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Alternative Energy Conversion Systems at Simon Fraser University (SFU). He immigrated to Canada in 1999 and obtained his Ph.D. and Postdoc in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo.
Bahrami has a vision: to utilize waste-heat and seize the power of new materials to develop energy storage, cooling, and atmospheric water-harvesting technologies with the potential to change the world. He has established the world-class Laboratory for Alternative Energy Conversion (LAEC) at SFU and has attracted more than $30 million of research funding.
His latest invention, demonstrated to both Prime Minister Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette, enables extracting a sustainable supply of drinking water from the atmosphere. Bahrami has filed eight patents and spun off two start-up companies.
- Business owner and President, Philippine Bayanihan Association
- City: Edmonton, Alberta
- Country of Origin: Philippines
Annie Chua-Frith is a mother, grandmother, business owner, and writer in Edmonton, Alberta. She came to Fort McMurray, Alberta, under the live-in caregiver program, which gave thousands an opportunity to become permanent residents and reunified with their family.
She decided to go to Canada in order to give her children a better place to live and create a new life. With this optimistic ambition, she did not realize that she would become more than a caregiver, but she established her own businesses, Assured Cargo International Ltd., and Voyable Travel and Tours Inc. and became involved in Alberta’s Filipino Canadian community.
Her involvement became bigger and wider that it inspired her to write her own journey and published her book in 2015 called Domestically Yours: A Caregiver’s Inspiring Journey. She wrote this to inspire many of her “kababayans” (countrymen) and it became a bestseller in Amazon under the eldercare category in 2015. Her immigration story has something in common with countless others — heartbreaks and hardship. With overcoming adversities, she says she’s an example that Filipinos are resilient and persistent.
She was also the winner of Most Outstanding Worker “Manggagawang Pilipino” of 2017, Golden Balangay Awards (Toronto).
- CEO, LoopEducation Inc.
- City: Calgary
- Country of Origin: India
Inspired by her lived experience, Khanduja founded the non-profit First Generations Organization (1GO), which is a national ambassador providing support, advocacy, and outreach to disadvantaged high school students. Building upon this success and wanting to make a long-term sustainable solution, the 22-year-old founded a social enterprise startup, LoopEducation Inc., an academic strategy and consulting company, where she is able to create an ecosystem by employing post-secondary students as strategists, who are able to leverage their lived experience and acquire meaningful work experience while providing disadvantaged high school students with crucial services at an accessible rate.
In addition to her work with students and inspired by witnessing wait-times as a hospital volunteer for eight years, Khanduja developed a Patient Care Transition (PCT) Score. Patients denied critical care is untenable for the modern age, so she developed a rubric that can be integrated into a usable technology for hospital staff to determine whether a patient requires a bed at triage. This idea won Top 5 at World’s Challenge, resulting in a probable pilot and app development.
Khanduja has been invited to speak at the Canadian National Perinatal Research Meeting in 2018 and 2020 about her work on pregnancy disorders. She has been invited to share her story of equitable access to quality education in a TEDx talk and the Global Youth Leaders Summit. She is a Top 20 Under 25, Top 30 Under 30, 2x Immigrants of Distinction finalist, NEXT36 finalist, and a true social innovator.
Happy Canada Day and don’t forget to vote for your favourite candidate here.