I am proud to live in a country that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Talented immigrants arrive every year to call Canada home, and these newcomers shape this country's future in important ways. Earlier this year, I wrote about the value of honouring the immigrants that help make Canada better. It was a broad call to acknowledge the social, economic and cultural contribution that thousands of immigrants make to our country.
What struck me about this year's RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards honourees was that so many of them are either relatively young themselves, or their efforts and energy have been focused on empowering Canada's youth - our next generation of leaders - through mentorship and support. Each of the examples below has an inspiring story. (Their Canadian hometown and where they immigrated from are in brackets).
• Dr. Azita Haddadi (Saskatoon/Iran): A doctor of pharmacy, Azita's research program at the University of Saskatchewan focuses on novel approaches for cancer treatments, and her work has won a number of grants and awards. She encourages young researchers and students to strive for success, and looks to provide new opportunities for them.
• Narmin Ismail (Toronto/Kenya): Narmin's passion is empowering young women through education. As the founder and CEO of the Spark of Hope Foundation, her mission is to provide university-level educational scholarships to young women from the developing world, helping to create female leaders.
• Tilak Chawan (St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador/Bhutan): As a settlement worker, Tilak helps young newcomers and refugees integrate seamlessly into the school system. He also promotes diversity initiatives in communities across the province.
• Leen Al Zaibak (Toronto/Syria): Leen works at Free The Children, an international charity that organizes the WE Day and We Schools initiatives in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. She is also a co-founder of Jusoor, an international non-governmental organization, which helps Syrian youth to realize their potential through programs in the fields of education, career development and global community engagement.
• Kumaran Thillaindarajah (Fredericton/Sri Lanka): This young immigrant started Smart Skin Technologies while a 23-year-old student at the University of New Brunswick. He originally designed a pressure-sensitive skin technology for use with prosthetics, but which now has wider applications and is being used in packaging and pharmaceuticals. His contribution has created jobs, as well as enhanced the reputation of New Brunswick within the tech and innovation community
These honourees are true examples of the real and significant role that newcomers are playing in making Canada a great place to live and work. They have incredible drive and passion and are represented across all industries, from artists to business owners. I'm sure we could recognize 100 Canadian immigrants every year if the number of nominations that we receive is any indication of the pool of talent that exists in this country.
Most importantly, I'm reassured that the future of Canada is in good hands.
Are you making an important contribution to Canada, or know someone who is? Share your story in the comments below, or @RBC_Canada.
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