كشف مؤخّرا المعهد الكندي العربي عن قائمة ’’30 تحت 30‘‘ (30 Under 30) لعام 2023 والتي تضمّ أسماء ثلاثين كنديّا وكنديّة من أصول عربية تتراوح أعمارهم بين سنّ 16 و30 عاماً.
وتميّز هؤلاء في عدّة مجالات ’’كالتعليم والقانون والخدمات العامة والمنظمات غير الربحية والتجارة وريادة الأعمال والهندسة والرعاية الصحية والفنون وغيرها’’، كما جاء في بيان المعهد الكندي العربي.
والمعهد الكندي العربي الذي يقع مقرّه في مدينة تورونتو هو مجمّع تفكير (Think Tank) تأسس في عام 2011، يهدف إلى تسهيل إدماج الكنديين العرب في الحياة الثقافية والسياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية في كندا.
ولتحقيق هذه الأهداف يقوم المعهد بإجراء دراسات وتحقيقات حول الجالية العربية تمكّنه من التأثير على صنّاع القرار في كندا.
وتدخل قائمة ’’30 تحت 30‘‘ (نافذة جديدة) في هذا الإطار.
ويستلهم المعهد الكندي العربي هذه القائمة من تلك التي تقدّمها المؤسسة العربية الأمريكية التي يقع مقرّها في واشنطن، عاصمة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية.
وفي حوار مع راديو كندا الدولي، تقول نورا حمادة، مديرة البحوث والسياسات في المعهد الكندي العربي، إنّها المرّة الأولى التي يقوم المعهد الكندي العربي بإصدار هذه الجائزة التي تهدف إلى ’’إعطاء واجهة للشباب العرب [الكنديين] الذين تميّزوا في مجالاتهم. ويشكّل هذا اعترافا بمجهوداتهم وبما يقدّمونه للجالية العربية.‘‘
وسيقوم المعهد، وفقاً لها، بمواصلة إصدار القائمة سنوياً.
نريد أن نخبر الناس [في كندا] أنّ الشباب العرب موجودون في المجتمع الكندي وأنهم يتميّزون في مجالات متعدّدة كالفنون والعلوم والسياسة والتجارة… أملُنا أن نُظهر كلّ مجهودات التي يقدّمها الشباب الكندي العربي.
نقلا عن نورا حمادة، مديرة البحوث والسياسات في المعهد الكندي العرب
ويحصل الفائزون على شهادة اعتراف موقّعة من طرف رئيس مجلس إدارة المعهد ، نضال اسماعيل، ونائبته دلال الوحيدي.
ويشارك هذان الأخيران مع أعضاء مجلس الإدارة في تقييم ملفّات المرشّحين للجائزة، كما أوضحت نورا حمادة.
وأضافت أنّ الترشّح للجائزة يكون على أساس طوعي حيث يقدّم كلّ مرشّح ملفّه بنفسه ولا يُسمح لأي شخص بترشيح شخص آخر.
ويكون الترشيح على أساس ’’العمل المقدَّم للمجتمع والتزام المرشح وارتباطه بالثقافة العربية الكندية‘‘، كما قالت في حديثها.
ويشمل هذا القيادة و العمل التطوعي وأيّ نجاح في مجال العمل.
وبالنسبة لها إنّ أحسن ’’مُقيِّم لعمل أي شخص، هو الشخص نفسه. اشترطنا أن يقدّم كلّ شخص ملفّ ترشّحه حت نتمكّن من تقييم شغفهم بما يقومون به.‘‘
وتضيف نورا حمادة أنّ المعهد العربي الكندي يأمل في أن تعود هذه الجائزة بالفائدة على الفائزين حيث سيعترف المجتمع بهم وبإنجازاتهم.
وقام المعهد بحملة إعلامية خاصة على شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي للترويج لهذه القائمة.
بعد تحديد من فاز بمكان في القائمة [30 تحت 30] (نافذة جديدة) ، قمنا بالترويج لها على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي مثل تويتر وانستغرام و’لينكد إن‘ (LinkedIn) وموقعنا على الانترنت حتى نُبرز كلّ انجازاتهم.
نقلا عن نورا حمادة، مديرة البحوث والسياسات في المعهد الكندي العرب.
وأشارت أنّه كان صعباّ على لجنة التحكيم الاختيار بين المترشّحين بسبب ’’المواهب الكثيرة في الجالية العبرية الكندية، خاصة بين الشباب.‘‘
وأكّدت نورا حمادة أنّ صورة الشباب العربي في كندا ’’إيجابية بصفة عامة. وهم معروفون بجدّهم واجتهادهم. وتساعد هذه القائمة على المضي بهذه الصورة إلى مستوى أعلى.‘‘
وهذا ما أكّده بعض الفائزين عبر ردود فعل نشروها على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي.
فكتبت، على سبيل المثال، المخرجة الشابة الكندية الأردنية، مريم المومني على حسابها على موقع التواصل الاجتماعي المهني ’’لينكد إن‘‘ (LinkedIn) :’’ لقد تشرفت باختياري ضمن قائمة المعهد الكندي العربي ’30 تحت 30‘. أنا ممتنة للموجهين الرائعين والزملاء والأصدقاء الذين يدعمونني طوال مسيرتي الريادية والإبداعية.‘‘
ومن جانبها، عبّرت الكندية السورية حنان نعناع على نفس الموقع عن فرحتها بعد اختيارها ضمن القائمة.
وقالت هذه الشابة التي تعمل كمستشارة جهوية في مكتب نائبة رئيس الحكومة الكندية ووزيرة المالية كريستيا فريلاند إنّها ’’كامرأة عربية، فخورة بالطريق الذي خطته لنفسي. كانت كل خطوة إلى الأمام شهادة على الروح التي لا تقهر والإمكانات اللامحدودة داخل مجتمعاتنا. على الرغم من مواجهة الصور النمطية المجتمعية، خاصة بالنسبة للمرأة في السياسة والعنصرية والفرص المحدودة ، فقد حطمنا باستمرار الأسقف الزجاجية وأثبتنا أن أصواتنا تستحق أن تُسمع.‘‘
وفي نهاية حوارها مع راديو كندا الدولي، أشارت مديرة البحوث والسياسات في المعهد الكندي العربي إلى أنّ هذا الأخير سيُعلن في منتصف أغسطس/آب المقبل عن تأسيس المجلس الوطني العربي للشباب (National Arab Youth Council)
وقالت هذه الشابة الفسطينية الأصل، المولودة في دولة الإمارات العربية، والحاصلة على ماجستير في علم الأوبئة والإحصائيات الحيوية من جامعة ويسترن في لندن (أونتاريو) ’’إننا على تواصل مع الشباب العربي [في كندا] لتكوين مجلس يحتضن شبكة شبابية داخل الجالية العربية تهتم بالشباب العامل والذي لا يزال يتابع دراسته الجامعية.‘‘
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE AWARD RECIPIENTS!
Khaled is a passionate community leader dedicated to empowering refugees and advancing the UN’s Social Development Goals. Having experienced displacement firsthand as a refugee from Syria, he became deeply committed to making a difference. Khaled started as a volunteer and quickly became the Operations Manager at Molham Volunteering Team, one of the largest refugee-led NGOs. His focus on improving access to quality education in refugee camps has been a driving force. Through Molham, Khaled coordinated projects that promoted equitable access to essential resources like food, water, healthcare, education, housing and employment for Syrian refugees and internally displaced people. He also volunteered with the UNHCR and other international organizations to support refugee-centred development projects. Khaled registered Molham Team as a non-profit in Canada and became the Administrative Manager of the Canadian office. Currently, the Molham Team is focused on education and shelter projects, providing scholarships to refugees and building schools and centres in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. They have also undertaken significant efforts in Northwest Syria, constructing over 2,000 houses and creating job opportunities for the community. Recently, Khaled launched the “We Can” Fund, aiming to raise $20 million to build 4,000 apartments for rebuilding efforts. With over $12 million already raised, the construction of 2,500 apartments is set to begin this year.
MOHAMMAD AL AKEL
Originally from Lebanon, Mohammad’s drive for success and dedication to his community led him to Toronto, Canada. Mohammad’s academic excellence and leadership skills earned him The MasterCard Foundation scholarship to the American University of Beirut, where he ranked first in his class. He actively volunteered at organizations like the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon, the AUB Red Cross club, and was a student representative at AUB. Upon immigrating to Canada, Mohammad pursued a master’s degree in climate change at the University of Waterloo. His dedication led to an internship at The City of Windsor, where he marched in several Pride events. Mohammad worked for the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, leading the Totally Outright program. He later joined the Alliance for AIDS Prevention as a research assistant, working on The Youth Sexual Health and HIV/STI Prevention in Middle Eastern and North African Communities, where he also became a community engagement coordinator. Mohammad was recognized for his outstanding leadership as the first and second runner-up for the Sher Vancouver Award 2021 and 2022, which recognizes LGBTQ+ advocates and leaders in Canada. Mohammad serves as a settlement manager at Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services managing three programs: the youth, the LGBTQ, and the settlement programs.
YAZAN AL BAWWAB
Yazan is a young professional and athlete dedicated to positively impacting his community and industry. With a background as a lead sales engineer and engineer in training, he has gained valuable experience working with international clients and leading teams. His commitment to promoting sports and healthy lifestyles is evident through his work as a swim coach and instructor, guiding young swimmers toward national and international competitions. As an Olympic swimmer representing Palestine, Yazan has proudly competed on the world stage, participating in events like the Olympics, Swimming World Championships and the Islamic Games. He has achieved remarkable success, breaking several Palestinian national swimming records. Yazan has been selected for prestigious programs like the International Olympic Committee’s Young Leaders program and the FISU Canadian Ambassador program, representing Canadian university athletes.
Social Media: @yazan_bawwab_oly
Sleman Aldib has excelled in the arts since arriving in Canada in 2015. In Syria, he studied engineering and had a newfound passion for acting; Sleman’s journey began as a mentee at Swallow-A-Bicycle Theatre, propelling him into a world of creativity. His talent and inspiring story caught the attention of media outlets, showcasing him as a Syrian refugee-turned-model artist and community inspiration. Sleman’s commitment to representation led him to join the board of the Calgary Arab Arts & Culture Society and produce Arab plays, including the thought-provoking “Jasmine”, “Fight or Flight” and “The Opposite.” Building on his success, he established the Arab Canadian Theatre – Kawalease ACT, offering workshops and opportunities for new artists in partnership with the Swallow-A-Bicycle Theatre and the Calgary Foundation. Currently, he is preparing for the production of “Interrogation,” set to be Western Canada’s first Arab-speaking play. Sleman’s success story can be seen in the recent production, “Uncivilized” by Rawd Almassoud.
Instagram: @sleman.aldib // @kawalease.act // @sleman.aldib.production
Rawd Almsoud is an emerging Egyptian Canadian artist and filmmaker. She currently works in Film and Theatre productions and is one of the first and few female Arab theatre artists in Calgary. She directed a short documentary film for her capstone project during her studies titled ‘Uncivilized’ that questions the judgement imposed on Arab refugees and sheds light on four success stories of Syrian refugees in Calgary by interviewing and following them. ‘Uncivilized’ fights the stereotypes imposed on Arab refugees and empowers newcomers – Arab and non-Arab – to pursue their dreams and succeed in their new lives. The film was the best capstone of that academic year. The film ‘Uncivilized’ has since screened in three film festivals; as the opening film of the 10th Calgary Arab Nights Film Festival, the Calgary Justice film festival, and Junction North International Documentary Film Festival, in which it won the “Jury Prize for Best Canadian Short”. Rawd aims to make more films that promote and showcase Arab culture to the Canadian audience.
Sarah Benkirane is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Clinical and Cross-Cultural Psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She focuses her research on access to mental health care for first and second-generation immigrants in Canada, employing mixed methods research to identify systemic and social barriers. Sarah has presented her work on acculturation and discrimination in various academic journals and conferences. Previously, she served as the director of clinical operations at Kids Help Phone, leading the 24/7 Crisis Text Line and advocating for mental health support for marginalized youth. At 12 years old, she was nominated as the youngest leader to sit at Quebec’s Intergenerational Parliament for Quebec’s first intergeneration charter, and at 15 on the cover of several Quebec-based newspapers and TV shows advocating for Muslim Women’s rights to wear the hijab while refereeing soccer. Sarah’s commitment to inclusivity extends to her involvement in community action, where she was the first hijabi to play competitive curling in Canada. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Amal Center for Women, supporting women and families facing difficulties.
Batool is a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada in 2016, dreaming of becoming the first female physician in her family. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences first class with distinction from York University. She pursued a master’s degree in global affairs and justice at the University of Toronto, receiving the SSHRC Research Award. She published a book on protecting healthcare workers from cyberbullying during humanitarian emergencies during her studies. She proposed policy recommendations for the Canadian government to improve the healthcare, economic and social integration of newcomers to Canada. Batool was selected as a Canadian scholar for her MD degree at Central Michigan University, focusing her research on heart diseases. She has been recognized with awards such as the Medical Student Research Award and York University’s Top 30 Alumni Under 30. Batool has volunteered with various organizations and raised awareness of Arabic heritage. She teaches Arabic to Canadian doctors and medical students and creates YouTube videos documenting her journey to support aspiring medical professionals. Batool aspires to become a cardiac surgeon and serve as the first Canadian Minister of Health of Arabic descent. She is dedicated to empowering patients and underprivileged communities.
Facebook: Batool O. Barody
Tamar, a Palestinian woman born and raised in Ramallah, moved to Vancouver, BC, at 17. She earned the prestigious International Leader of Tomorrow Award at the University of British Columbia. At UBC, she actively promoted Arab culture and traditions as the Vice President & Social Events Coordinator of the Arab Student Association and worked as a Student Ambassador, giving campus tours and connecting with prospective students. Tamar worked as Business Systems Specialist at Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery and Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Ayima. She volunteered as a Translator for the Immigration Services Society, supporting Syrian refugees and other Arabic-speaking newcomers. In 2019 Tamar joined Dentsu, one of the top global advertising agencies, working as a Senior Strategist, then as Digital Director. She led diverse teams and worked with major clients such as Accor Hotels, Subway, and Shiseido Group. Tamar ran the first Ramadan/Eid advertising campaign for Narciso Rodriguez in Canada. Recognized for her sustainability efforts, Tamar was shortlisted for the Sustainability Champion award at the Canadian Media Directors’ Council. She volunteered at the Look Good Feel Better Gala, supporting women with cancer. She co-led Dentsu’s Middle East & North Africa Business Resource Group, fostering collaboration, mentoring, and representation.
Hisham played a key role in designing and constructing the Heron MKII satellite with the University of Toronto Aerospace Team, which aims to research the behaviour of yeast in microgravity environments and its impact on astronauts’ health during long-term space missions. The satellite will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Q3 2023. Hisham conducted research at Sick Kids Hospital, developing a control algorithm for concentric tube robots to improve the precision and safety of neurosurgical procedures, specifically for treating epilepsy. His algorithm successfully prevented collisions while guiding the robot during temporal lobectomy and corpus callosotomy surgeries. As a computer vision research engineer at Huawei Technologies, Hisham worked on developing eye-tracking algorithms incorporated into tablets, laptops, and smartphones. The technology helped detect distractions during remote learning and allowed users to interface with their phones using eye movements. Furthermore, Hisham co-founded Auctify Inc., a startup that created smart glasses utilizing computer vision to automatically track users’ meals and provide nutritional information through a companion app. The startup has received significant pre-sale revenue and venture capital funding, with a pending patent for its technology. Outside of his career, Hisham remains connected to his Lebanese roots and actively engages with the Arabic community in the GTA. He was a youth coordinator at the Arabic Cultural Club of Ontario, organizing events and activities to promote Arabic culture. He has also been performing traditional dabke dance at the Lebanese pavilion of the Carassauga Festival of Cultures for a decade.
Sara Emira’s career journey began amidst a challenging health crisis, igniting her mission to enhance accessibility to rehabilitation and fitness for immigrant communities. With an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and now pursuing an MSc in Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, Sara’s exceptional achievements were recognized with the prestigious Shirley A. Ward Scholarship. She has contributed to research, clinical positions and internships at esteemed organizations like Baycrest Health Sciences. As a research assistant and outreach coordinator for CAN-HEAL at McMaster University, Sara focuses on physical activity, nutrition and mental health among Ontario’s Arab immigrants and refugees. Additionally, Sara’s dedication to improving accessibility is evident through her work as an Arabic/English paediatric rehabilitation interpreter and her informative Instagram blog, Egyptian OT. Sara generously volunteers her time for interview coaching, mentorship sessions and guest lectures, acknowledging the invaluable support from her Arab, Muslim and disabled communities.
Soundous is passionate about supporting marginalized communities and creating a more inclusive society. As the Manager of Indigenous Outreach at UBC, she worked closely with Indigenous communities to encourage youth to pursue higher education, gaining valuable insights and deepening her understanding of their unique experiences. Inspired by this, she developed Indigenous awareness training programs and founded an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) consulting firm to educate organizations and the public on creating inclusive environments. Soundous also serves as the Manager of EDI at the BC Cancer Foundation, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity in their work. She founded an Arab community group called Arabs Van, providing a safe space for young Arabs to connect, share experiences and celebrate their culture. Since its inception in 2019, the group has grown from 10 members to over 600. Additionally, she oversaw the logistics of the successful Songs for Solidarity event, raising $4,000 for Syrian and Turkish earthquake relief.
Website: arabsvan.ca // humanizeconsulting.ca
Platforms: @arabsvan // @humanizeconsulting
Noor Fadel is an influential Iraqi-Canadian immigrant known for her national advocacy work on anti-racism, online violence, Islamophobia and gender-based violence. After personally experiencing a hate crime in 2017, Noor courageously shared her story and has since become a voice for Muslim women and victims of violence. She has spoken at major events like WE Day and collaborated on campaigns with organizations like YWCA Canada and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Noor’s advocacy extends internationally, including her fellowship in Tanzania, where she empowered local women to start social entrepreneurship businesses addressing social and environmental challenges. She continues to shed light on important social issues through spoken word poetry and writing. Noor’s dedication and impact drive positive change toward a more inclusive society.
Natalie Gergis, a grade 12 student, is a passionate musician and dedicated community leader from Mississauga. She shares her musical talents by performing at local retirement homes, teaching music to children, and creating engaging music videos. Natalie’s Facebook page, ‘Natalie G Music,’ has gained worldwide recognition, reaching over 14 thousand followers and being recognized by Meta as one of the top one percent of engaging content creators globally. Natalie has since joined the Canadian Arabic Orchestra (as a flutist and guitarist), the Mississauga Symphony Youth Orchestra (as a flutist and volunteer on the marketing team), and Canadian Egyptian Heritage Month (as a producer), performing at events such as the KW Middle East Fest (Canadian Arab Women’s Association), Summerfest (Dixie Bloor Neighborhood), Mississauga World Music Festival, and Carassauga. As a founding member of the Social Walk Band, she aims to promote the joy and richness of Arabic and oriental music. Natalie has volunteered as a live performer at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA), helping raise money for Islamic relief. She has earned an Honorary Scroll from an MPP and a Principal’s Recognition Award for fostering a positive environment at school. Natalie also contributes to global initiatives, such as Project Milk Bag and the Glimpse Team Project, while organizing fundraising activities for cancer survivors. She is committed to providing equal access to valuable resources through free mentorship.
Facebook: Natalie G Music
YouTube: Natalie G Music
During Tariq’s time at the University of Toronto, he served as the VP of Finance for Woodsworth College Students’ Association, the largest college at the university. His contributions to enhancing the student experience earned him the Woodsworth Cup and the Peggy Pratt Service Award. Since graduating, Tariq has supported Canadian entrepreneurs at MaRS Discovery District. He launched the first Canadian Fund/Accelerator for Techstars, investing in 40 high-growth companies from Canada and underrepresented countries worldwide. Currently, he leads Strategy & Operations at Inkblot Therapy, a Techstars Toronto portfolio company focused on improving Canadians’ quality of life through accessible mental health services. Tariq actively volunteers on the Diversity & Inclusion Small Council (DISC) leadership committee, supporting underrepresented tech founders. He is also part of the Executive Committee of Scale Without Borders, assisting newcomers in the tech and entrepreneurship field. He serves as a board member for Access to Success Organization, promoting the development of future leaders with disabilities and accessibility tech. Tariq has received several accolades, notably the El Hassan Gold Youth Award, issued by His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal and modelled after the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Nasser’s journey began as a 17-year-old newcomer to Canada, leaving behind his home in the Middle East to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto. Nasser joined the Canadian Arab Institute’s Irshad mentorship program and later worked as a constituency assistant for a local Member of Parliament. From assisting with repatriation efforts during the pandemic to providing vital information to diverse communities, including the Canadian-Arab community, he played a crucial role in navigating the crisis. His dedication led to positions with Canada’s Minister of Health, contributing to the national fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping diverse communities – including newcomers & the Canadian-Arab community – a part of the national response. He has held positions working for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, contributing to the national response and economic recovery. Nasser is currently part of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, working with a team focused on delivering results for Canadians.
Twitter, Instagram: @nasserhaidar
JANA JANDAL ALRFAI
Jana is a climate justice organizer passionate about policy-making, sustainability and urban planning. She co-founded Fridays for Future Windsor-Essex, a grassroots youth organization focused on raising awareness about the climate crisis and advocating for climate action. Jana currently serves as the President of the Windsor-Essex Youth Climate Council and has spoken at the City Council to promote the creation of protected bike lanes. She has also worked with Climate Strike Canada and is a Board member of the Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-RAC), pushing for climate action. Jana represented Syria in Mock COP and produced a policy document to be presented at COP26.
Additionally, she has participated in projects such as the State of the Youth Report and Our Climate, Our Stories discussing the impact of Islam on her environmentalism. Jana contributed to the State of the Youth Report as a part of the Youth Advisory Group, connecting youth and community to national and provincial government policy. Academically, Jana is involved in Dalhousie University’s Climate Grief Youth Advisory Council and holds various positions at the University of Windsor. She has researched diverse topics and worked at the Bike Kitchen to promote safe cycling and advocate for better infrastructure in Windsor.
Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin: @janajalrifai
Karla Jubaily, a master of journalism student at the University of British Columbia, defied expectations by pursuing higher education despite her family’s circumstances. After a life-changing car accident that left her father with quadriplegia, Karla’s parents encouraged her to pursue a fulfilling career. She is dedicated to showcasing work that honours their journeys and histories. With a bachelor’s degree in gender, race, sexuality and social justice, Karla has worked in education and law to apply her skills to serve others. Currently, she focuses on countering harmful media stereotypes that marginalize cultural and ethnic communities, including Arab and Muslim individuals. Karla actively engages in equity and inclusion initiatives on and off campus, holding leadership positions in student associations and advisory councils. This summer, she will intern with the Samir Kassir Foundation in Beirut, researching media consumption patterns and information manipulation in Lebanon.
Salma, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Lebanon, developed a passion for community service at a young age. She learned the importance of giving back during her experience living through a war in 2006. In 2018, Salma moved to the US to pursue her bachelor’s degree in international relations & affairs. Following graduation, she relocated to Canada in search of a permanent home. She founded and led two non-profit organizations: Girl Up Palestine, an initiative advocating for girls’ education funded by the United Nations Initiative; and Seekers for Youth, which empowers Arab youth through entrepreneurship and professional development. Salma received the Platinum Jubilee Pin in Honour of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, awarded by Canadian Member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen. She is on the youth council of the Canadian Member of Parliament, Arielle Kayabaga. Salma contributed to the Canadian Arab Society’s youth committee and played a key role in organizing the successful Middle East Festival in London, ON, which attracted over 2,000 attendees. She currently serves as a Regional Volunteer Team Member of Islamic Relief Canada, organizing events such as winter kit distributions and celebrations honouring Muslim women on International Women’s Day.
Alaa Khalaf is a first-generation third-year nursing student at Queen’s University. Coming to Toronto as a Syrian refugee six years ago, Alaa is the first member of her family to pursue higher education and has set her sights on becoming a Canadian doctor. Alaa attended university in Kingston as a Loran Scholar, selected among thousands of applicants. She faced the challenge of learning English as a second language and adapting to a new environment in highschool. Despite these obstacles, she has been an active community member, supporting community projects to assist newcomers in resettlement. Alaa established the Queen’s Arab Students’ Association at Queen’s University. Alaa has collaborated with nonprofits like the Afghan Women’s Organization and KEYS Job Centre to offer resettlement services to newcomers. She has been vital in organizing large-scale festivals and events, including the Taste of the Middle East Festivals. As an active World University Service of Canada (WUSC) member, Alaa mentors sponsored refugee students, contributing to rebuilding the local group and facilitating meaningful mentorship connections. Alaa’s commitment has earned the Peer Leadership Award at Queen’s University. She has volunteered in numerous initiatives, including the Queen’s Refugee Relief, the Queen’s Student Diversity Project, the Kingston Nursing Research Planning Committee, Queen’s Students in Support of Sick Kids and the Indigenous Health Education Working Group.
Alia Khan is a driven and accomplished student with a strong academic background, valuable work experience and outstanding extracurricular achievements. Her dedication to showcasing Arab Canadian culture stems from her mother, a Lebanese woman who instilled a sense of pride and accomplishment in her. Alia made it her mission to excel in all endeavours as a tribute to her mother and her cultural roots. Currently a fourth-year Global Management Studies major with a Finance minor at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, she is preparing to graduate and embark on her career with Bell Canada’s New Graduate Program. Alia has actively pursued leadership and volunteer opportunities that create a sustainable impact. Alia takes pride in the Shepreneur Project, empowering women survivors of trafficking by teaching them entrepreneurship, financial literacy and mental health. Additionally, she runs her successful business, byalia.com, selling custom pieces and prints of her Arab-inspired artwork and donating profits to charitable organizations such as Islamic Relief and Humanity First. Alia founded a scholarship in 2015 in honour of her mother, raising over $43,000 to support women entering teacher’s college
Saja Kilani is an accomplished actress, writer and filmmaker making a significant impact in the Arab/Canadian community. With a degree in International Relations and Theatre Performance, she uses her artistic talents to shed light on neglected stories. Her debut play production, “Tales of a City by the Sea,” received critical acclaim for portraying Palestinians under occupation. Saja’s films, including the silent short “Knockdown” addressing Indigenous displacement and her thesis short film “What’s Your Emergency” (WYE) tackling domestic violence, showcase her versatility as a filmmaker. The Toronto Film School Festival of Films has recognized her work. Additionally, Saja’s powerful poems, such as “This Is Palestine,” have been featured in the Toronto Palestine Film Festival archives. Through her creative endeavours, Saja aims to shift narratives, empower others, and create a tangible impact in the Arab/Canadian community. Saja’s subsequent poems, “No Honour in Honour Killing” and “I Am,” received widespread support and reached a global audience. Currently, Saja is working on more poems and developing her first independent feature film in Jordan, which aims to address a social struggle to create a tangible impact in the country. As an artist of Palestinian heritage, Saja is profoundly committed to elevating voices like hers and shifting the narrative to reflect the truth.
Steve Mansour is a dedicated student and young professional from Ottawa, ON. He has excelled academically, achieving high grades and maintaining a near-perfect GPA throughout his studies. Steve actively engages with the Arab community, enrolling in an accredited Arabic school and learning to play the oud, an Arabic instrument. Steve received prestigious awards and scholarships at Carleton University. He joined various clubs and organizations, but notably was elected as the VP-Finance/Secretary-Treasurer of the Carleton University Students’ Association, where he provided funding for some of Carleton’s largest Arab culture clubs and supported their valuable events. He also participated in the Senate Page Program, representing the Arab community in the Parliament of Canada, and engaged in research on climate change responses at Carleton University. Recently, Steve achieved a significant milestone by being offered early admission to McGill University’s Faculty of Law. He will pursue a Juris Doctorate concurrently with a bachelor of civil law.
Lila Mansour, raised in Northern BC, passionately advocates diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. She holds a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Northern BC. Lila represented her riding of Cariboo-Prince George during the national Daughters of the Vote event. She spoke in the House of Commons on Islamophobia, discrimination and lack of support for newcomers to Canada. During her undergraduate studies, Lila excelled academically and was a regional coordinator for the Justice Education Society, providing legal education services. She has worked as a computer science research assistant and helped initiate and serve on the university’s first Student Roundtable on Confronting Racism. Lila is committed to making the law more accessible to marginalized communities, particularly Arabic-speaking communities. In 2023, she launched the BC Arabic Legal Support Centre to address the need for better legal information resources. Lila is completing a JD at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Toronto Metropolitan University with her academic placement at the Office of the Chief Justice, Superior Court of Ontario, during her final year.
Social Media: @lilaxmansour
Abrar is a Syrian-Canadian born in Hamilton & raised in Aleppo, Syria. She is a mental health counsellor specializing in trauma. With experience dating back to 2014 in Syria, she empowers youth and women affected by war and crisis. When the civil war broke out, Abrar remained in Syria to volunteer and work with SOS, UNICEF and UNHCR to provide children and their families with trauma-informed mental health care. After returning to Canada in 2017, she founded ABRAR Trauma and Mental Health Services, offering newcomers affordable, culturally sensitive mental support. Abrar led the national mental health campaign “In This Together” during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocating for a post-pandemic mental health recovery plan. She serves as an advisory committee member for the TMU School of Child & Youth Care and a community advisor for the BOHT in Burlington. Abrar was honoured as the 2021 Honorary Woman of Distinction and received the Women Who Rock Award in 2022.
During his undergraduate studies in Kinesiology at McMaster University, Ibrahim joined the McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice Club, organizing events and advocating against Islamophobia and Palestinian rights. His efforts were recognized when the club won Club of the Year in 2017. Ibrahim recognized the prevalence of trauma and mental health struggles in the community. This led him to pursue a career in psychiatry, focusing on culturally-sensitive care upon entry at the University of Ottawa medical school in 2019. He worked with renowned psychiatrists and contributed to initiatives addressing mental health stigmatization and advocating for refugees facing deportation. His contributions were recognized by the Muslim Awards for Excellence (MAX), earning him their largest scholarship. Ibrahim joined Stanford University’s Muslim Mental Health lab as a Research Intern, using data to inform his community work. He also coordinated the Canadian Muslim Mental Health Conference. These experiences matched him with the psychiatry program at the University of Toronto, where he will continue his advocacy for Arab and Muslim mental health.
Noha Mohamed, an Egyptian-Canadian, founded Calgary Arabia, the first Arabic radio show in Calgary, Alberta, while pursuing a bachelor of commerce in marketing at the University of Calgary. The show quickly gained popularity within the Canadian Arabic-speaking community, accumulating over 5.5 million impressions during its seven year run and covering the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and more. Building on this success, Noha is expanding the radio show into a 24/7 online station to represent the intricate identities of the community authentically. She has also completed a Multimedia Journalism Certificate from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Noha’s feature article on Canadian-Arab representation in film and media was published by CBC. Noha’s dedication to the community extends to her involvement in the Calgary Arab Arts & Culture Society and her work as a Senior Marketing Strategist at Trail Appliances Ltd. With her passion for media and community empowerment, Noha aims to train and support others while creating platforms that serve the diaspora’s needs.
Instagram and Twitter: @noha_aloha
MARIAM J. MOMANI
Mariam J. Momani, a Jordanian Canadian entrepreneur, founded two successful businesses. She established her first company while studying at York University, specializing in media and communications. Recognizing her passion for entrepreneurship, video production and community, Mariam founded her current business, II3Studios. II3Studios is a Toronto-based video production company that serves various corporations and community-based organizations in the MENA region and North America to create content representing and speaking to third-culture audiences. Over the last three years, Mariam has worked with some of the most known corporations and organizations, including Al Jazeera, CNBC Arabia, Audi Canada, BGC Canada, Climate Proof Canada, Women’s Refugee Commission, TD Bank, and more. In addition, Mariam founded A Utopiia in 2020, a creative agency focusing on graphic design, motion graphics, and animation. Managing a team of seven creatives, she has collaborated with organizations like GIZ (German Development Agency), Beyond Conflict, IOM UN Migration and more. With her unwavering commitment to business growth, Mariam envisions transforming II3Studios and AUtopiia into internationally recognized social enterprises. Her entrepreneurial drive and creative expertise position her as a rising leader in the industry.
Hanen works as a regional advisor for the Federal Minister’s Regional office and the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. She empowers Arab youth and women through policy consultations, roundtables and government events. Hanen has organized events and campaigns to involve marginalized groups, specifically women and youth from equity-deserving communities, in politics. Hanen founded BAM – Books Art Music Collective, Ontario’s first youth-led collective and a social enterprise focused on empowering equity-deserving young people. Hanen co-founded an international study on child and early forced marriages in internally displaced settings in Syria and presented it at the 66th Commission on Status of Women’s NGO forum in New York. She has led and participated in research studies for academic and community projects, including bridging the gaps between newcomers, refugees and Indigenous people. Additionally, Hanen has developed a Youth-Led Social Enterprise that connects organizations, charities, businesses and government agencies with diverse Canadian communities. Hanen’s accomplishments include receiving the Alterna Prize for Women’s Social Leaders and the Toronto Arts for Youth Award. UN WOMEN has recognized her as one of the Women of the Year, she was featured on CBC’s “The Dream Team” and received mentorship from Manjit Minhas of Dragons’ Den. Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged her efforts with a recognition letter and certificate in 2019.
Nadia Rassoul is the visionary behind Noomi, a fashion brand that celebrates Middle Eastern culture and empowers individuals. Inspired by her longing for the vibrant and unique Middle Eastern experience, Nadia started Noomi during her studies in Toronto. Since its launch in 2018, Noomi has achieved remarkable milestones, including an invitation by Harvard Arab Alumni to represent her company at the prestigious Arab Conference at Harvard University. During the challenging times of COVID-19, Nadia raised funds for refugees in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency. Additionally, Noomi contributes a percentage of its sales to support countries in need within the Middle East. Nadia’s “Seven Cities Sweater” became a massive success, selling out within two weeks. Nadia aims to continue growing Noomi, launching new collections, and positively impacting the Middle Eastern region. Through Noomi, Nadia bridges the gap between East and West with empowering fashion that captures the essence of Middle Eastern heritage.
Instagram: @nadiarassoul // @noomishop
Raymond Soussa is a passionate fundraising consultant and entrepreneur with over seven years of experience in the Canadian non-profit sector. He has worked with exceptional organizations that strive to impact the world positively. His expertise lies in face-to-face fundraising, grant research consulting and serving as the Director of Development for multiple non-profits, charities and social enterprises in Canada and the U.S. Raymond founded Eternal Sparks, a fundraising consulting company focused on helping non-profits and social enterprises across Canada, the U.S. and the UK achieve sustainability and fulfill their missions. Since its inception, Eternal Sparks has raised over five million dollars for various charities, with ongoing work and partnerships with over 12 clients. With a team of 12, including eight employees from Lebanon, they are dedicated to creating job opportunities amid Lebanon’s economic crisis, contributing to economic recovery and empowering talented individuals. Raymond has pledged to donate 15 percent of Eternal Sparks’ profits to charity as part of his commitment to giving back. In addition, Raymond leads Transparently Lebanese, a non-profit organization focused on mobilizing the diaspora for local development and fostering trust between the diaspora, government, and community. They are collaborating with the municipality of Kfarchima in Lebanon to strengthen connections with the diaspora and enhance the community’s growth.