Published: 2018-06-23 17:04
Last Updated: 2018-06-23 18:55
Two Arab refugees were among the recipients of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award 2018, which celebrates its tenth installment. The award honors people who were once newcomers to the country and have contributed to their communities through leadership and philanthropy.
Syrian national, Mohammed Alsaleh has used his personal experience and understanding of what refugees have been through to become a passionate advocate and the official refugee sponsorship trainer in Vancouver, British Columbia.
He had been studying to become a doctor in Syria but he now travels across the province providing information and ongoing training for the refugee private sponsorship community.
The activist has welcomed new learning opportunities and an important lesson he has learned is that anyone can become Canadian.
“You can be anyone, any religion, any ethnicity or background. Simply be yourself and contribute what you can offer to Canadian society, while embracing the Canadian values of diversity, inclusion and acceptance.”
Palestinian Sara Asalya is the other Arab activist featured on the top 25 award who has banked on the initial feeling of being an outsider as the impetus behind establishing her newcomer student organization.
Immigrating to Canada six years ago, her upbringing in the largest of Gaza’s eight refugee camps instilled Asayla with a passion for social justice and human rights.
The organisation was founded in Ryerson University, Toronto, where Asalya is the student engagement and leadership assistant.
Its initiatives include a large-scale annual conference, peer mentoring, an Empowering Immigrant Women club and introducing a new scholarship for immigrants.
“I am very passionate about the work I do and continuously strive to improve.”
The busy mother of two young sons has been recently accepted into a master’s program in education at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto.
A ceremony will be held in Vancouver on June 27 honoring the recipients of the award.