2022 IDA Finalists
Achievement Under 35
Eno Eka was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada in 2018. After arriving here, she founded The Business Analysis School which has offered courses to over 10,000 immigrants. Eno is also a campaign ambassador for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Additionally, she is an active volunteer in several organizations, including volunteering as the Director of Education with the International Institute of Business Analysis. Eno was awarded Alberta Top 30 under 30 in 2021.
Aseem Pandey is an Indian-born engineer who arrived in Canada in 2015. He carried out research in the field of advanced material design and characterization for engineering applications in energy systems at the University of Calgary. To give back to his community, Aseem and his team at EnviCore utilized their skills in chemical engineering to prepare 70L of hand sanitizers using a World Health Organization (WHO) approved formula and donated it to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Center and parents of Alberta Children’s Hospital patients.
Roxanne Singlot immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2011. She is a champion in the community and cares about the well-being of the youth. She founded and is the Board Director for the Youth Empowerment Program which has been essential in engaging Filipino youth and developing them into community leaders. She was a panelist for "Refugee and Newcomer Women's Emotional Wellness" conference in 2020 for The Immigrant Education Society (TIES). Now, Roxanne currently leads an anti-racism conversation project of PFCA (Philippine Festival Council of Alberta) in the Filipino- Canadian community.
Arts & Culture
Zahra Entezarmahdi is a recent immigrant who moved to Canada in 2018 from Iran. She created and facilitated free art classes for immigrant seniors at Immigrant Services Calgary which proved to be very popular and successful. Zahra continues to support the community by donating time to various events, including 2021 Seniors Week, Age Well Online Festival, and the Sound of Spring. She is an active volunteer with The Mustard Seed, The Persian Gulf Charity, and the YMCA.
Mohar Gupta is originally from India and moved to Canada in 2014. She founded the Creative Diversity public art project working with 16 different cultures and ethnicities, including Indigenous communities, helping them have a personal connection to Calgary through art. Mohar also lead the Artistic Expression classes for immigrant seniors who struggled with the isolation brought on by the pandemic. Her passion for art, diversity, and cultural awareness led to her volunteer work in both art projects and education in various organizations including, The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth, Calgary Reads, the Neighbourhood Grant Project at City of Calgary, and The City of Calgary Women’s Circle.
Toyin Oladele made Canada her home in 2017, moving here from Nigeria. Toyin founded and is the Executive Director of the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation, a non-profit that connects and advocates for newcomer and immigrant arts workers in Calgary. She manages the northeast public art project for the City of Calgary and sits on the equity and diversity committee for Calgary Arts Development. She created the Immigrant Arts Mentorship Program and directed the first Immigrant Arts Festival in Alberta. She volunteers for different organizations, mentoring and creating job opportunities for diverse arts and culture workers.
Community Development Through Sport
Jean Claude Munyezamu
Jean Claude Munyezamu was born in Rwanda and made Canada his home in 1998. He founded Soccer Without Boundaries, an innovative youth program which helps immigrant and low-income families get involved in the community through sport, music, after-school programs, summer camps and community events. Since March 2020, the program has been providing Calgary’s underserved families with emergency food hampers and online tutoring support. It is currently serving over 700 families.
Philip Ndugga came to Canada in 2000 from Uganda. Philip is a successful fitness ambassador, one of Canada's top trainers of 2020, certified personal trainer with American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and 5th degree blackbelt. He founded The Ssubi Foundation, a charitable organization which works to alleviate poverty in Uganda through educational initiatives, micro financing, and child sponsorship. In the last 15 years, The Ssubi Foundation has succeeded in building four schools supporting over 3,000 students.
Kelvin Dela Pena
Kelvin Dela Pena, originally from the Philippines, made Canada home in 1994. Kelvin created Rise Up Hoops, a basketball club which creates a healthy environment for young basketball players to invest in themselves and their future. Coach Kelvin encourages athletes to continue to seek their personal best and reach their full potential in all aspect of their lives. He is known for instilling the importance of attention to detail, work ethic, and character in every player he mentors.
Annela Azeem made Canada her home in 2000 with her Pakistani family. She founded the Canadian Pakistani Support Group (CPSG), a volunteer initiative with a mission and mandate to serve. Since 2016, CPSG has empowered youth and supported thousands of families and vulnerable populations. It also provides shelter for women and children fleeing violence. In 2020, she took a leadership role on the frontline to serve those affected by the pandemic. She was awarded the Community Advocate Award by The City of Calgary.
Adanech Sahilie moved to Canada from Ethiopia in 2010. She has been passionate about helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, NE hailstorm advocacy, and widespread policy influencing activism. She advocated for marginalized and racially discriminated meat processing essential workers rights during their struggle throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, Adanech launched the Ethiopian and Eritrean Support Group now called The Immigrant Outreach Society, the first of its kind Calgary based non-for-profit organization that provides evidence-based, language-specific, and culturally appropriate mental health intervention for ethnic minorities from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Syed Hassan is from Pakistan and made Canada his home in 2009. He is the president and founder of Love with Humanity Association. Syed and a team of volunteers took an interest in the little outdoor community libraries already popular in Canada and decided to build on this idea with one modification - multicultural libraries, 19 to be exact. His passion for giving back led him and his team to add 8 outdoor food banks to their community library projects to further help newcomers who were struggling. Syed was awarded the Northern Light Alberta Service Award and the Diversity Builder Award in 2021 as further acknowledgement of his contributions.
Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Dr. Abbas Sarraf Shirazi
Dr. Abbas Sarraf Shirazi moved to Canada in 2009 from Iran to pursue a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. Right after graduation, he started a tech company in Calgary called Aimsio. Its mission is to bring traditional oil and gas field service companies to the twenty-first century by digitizing their operations. Aimsio has raised close to $10 million in capital and currently employs 30 people. It is one of the few companies that has been invited to participate in Silicon Valley's Canadian Technology Accelerator.
Originally from Tanzania, Alykhan Velji immigrated to Canada with his family in 1988. His passion for design led him to create Aly Velji Design, an interior design company. In 2005, Aly was chosen as a top ten finalist on HGTV’s Designer Superstar Challenge. Soon after, he blossomed into a TV personality and design expert who is passionate about his businesses, the design industry, and education. He has shared his design expertise on The Marilyn Denis Show, E!, COSMO, and 98.5 Virgin Radio.
Evelyn Ackah arrived in Canada from Ghana in 1976. In 2010, she moved to Calgary to open Ackah Business Immigration Law. Her law firm uses technology to provide top-notch legal services to clients around the world, 24/7/365. Technology offers a better work/life balance for the team; parents can work from home if needed with full remote operations during the pandemic. Evelyn donates her time to causes including Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Operation Eyesight, Black Opportunity Fund, and the International Women’s Forum.
Leadership (In partnership with The Calgary Black Chamber)
Kene Ilochonwu, K.C.
Kene Ilochonwu, K.C. a Nigerian born lawyer migrated to Canada in 2007. He co-founded the Calgary Black Chambers to enact positive change for Black professionals, mentor the youth, and make Calgary the best place to live and work for Black people. Kene was elected a Bencher of Law Society of Alberta, making him the first Black Bencher in Law Society’s 113-year history. In 2021, Kene won the Calgary Black Achievement Awards’ Excellence in Law category, and also awarded the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada. He was appointed His Majesty's Counsel, learned in the law, for the Province of Alberta (King’s Counsel) in 2022. Kene is also an Armoured Soldier with The King’s Own Calgary Regiment, and volunteers on the Boards of Global Lawyers of Canada, Pro Bono Law Alberta, the City of Airdrie Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB), Our Saviour Anglican Church, Calgary and the Anambra State Association.
Dr. Evelyn Jain
Dr. Evelyn Jain came to Canada from the UK in 1974. She is a physician and an assistant professor and has been working in the field of medicine for over 30 years. Dr. Evelyn’s tenacity and her passion for providing the best care possible to her patients has impacted thousands of lives. Her policies and medical interventions, pioneered in a 1990 breastfeeding clinic, have become industry standard practice. Her commitment to educating the next generation of medical professionals has left a remarkable impact that future mothers and their families will benefit from for years to come.
Madeleine King arrived in Canada in 1981 from the UK. Finding a Calgary community where eagerness to contribute was appreciated, she engaged in many leadership roles as president and chairperson of several organizations: her community association, school councils, the Children’s Cottage (founding chair), Bethany Seniors Care, and now, President of the Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown. A 2-term City Councillor, she helped transform the city’s arts sector and Beltline neighbourhood. In 2001, in collaboration with Elder Margaret Waterchief, she initiated annual conferences linking indigenous and non-indigenous youth. Her consultancy activities empowered many local charities and neighbourhood groups achieve their dreams.
Action Dignity Society
ActionDignity is a community-based organization that facilitates the collective voice of Calgary’s ethno-cultural communities towards full civic participation and integration through collaborative action. ActionDignity engages communities in action research and public policy analysis and promotes public awareness and respect for cultural diversity through an anti-racism lens. Throughout the pandemic, ActionDignity has provided support to vulnerable essential workers by creating culturally appropriate resources. ActionDignity was a key collaborator of the Calgary Newcomer Collaborative (CNC) that comprises over 17 agencies.. They trained 22 cultural brokers who spoke 24 languages to operate the Multilingual Emergency Response to COVID-19 hotline. The hotline has served over 20,616 people.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
Dr. Abhay Lodha
Dr. Abhay Lodha was born in India, arriving in Canada in 2000. He is committed to neonatal medicine and improving the quality of care provided to premature infants. His research focuses on determining the risk of cerebral palsy, cognitive and speech delays, motor and visual deficits, all while counselling families in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Abhay and his team’s results for their randomized controlled trial on family-centred care are adopted in the majority of NICUs in Alberta and in other parts of the world. He has been inducted as a member of many prestigious organizations, including The American Pediatric Society. His research related to caffeine and delayed umbilical cord clamping has changed neonatal practice worldwide.
Harbir Chhina immigrated to Canada with his family in 1970 from India. Throughout his career, he has been a pioneer of technology by commercializing and revolutionizing Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology. He also helped develop inclusion of Indigenous businesses into Cenovus and its predecessor company’s business plans, which became an industry example for peers to follow. Additionally, Harbir is an active volunteer with Perimeter Institute in Waterloo Ontario, a world recognized centre for fundamental research in theoretical physics, graduate training, and educational outreach.
Dr. Khorshid Mohammad
Dr. Khorshid Mohammad arrived in Canada from Syria in 2008. He is a clinical professor and has established a neonatal neuro-critical care program and brain education innovation lab where alongside his team, he invented cranial ultrasonography phantoms and simulators, neonatal EEG simulators, and neonatal neurological exams using virtual reality and smart phone applications. Dr. Mohammad is a national and international lead in his field. His quality improvement work led to significant reduction in mortality and brain injury in at-risk newborns. Dr. Mohammad was recognized by the Canadian Pediatric Society as an emerging leader in neonatology.
Bhanvi Sachdeva arrived in Canada from India in 2013. She is currently a third-year university student pursuing degrees in neuroscience and gender studies. Bhanvi is the founder of the Articulate Initiative, a registered non-profit organization that encourages youth activism through the arts, especially among marginalized youth. In partnership with the Women’s Centre of Calgary, Binti, University of Calgary, and several other global and national organizations, the Articulate Initiative has helped provide hygiene products for women worldwide. Some notable achievements include being nominated as one of the youngest recipients of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women and being a finalist for Top 100 Women of Inspiration.
Elena Mitevska landed in Canada from Macedonia in 2005. In high school, she graduated with the highest academic average in her class and received the Governor General's Bronze Academic Medal. She is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Calgary. Elena is an active volunteer with University of Calgary student groups and co-leads a student mentorship program. She helps first year students acclimate to university life and acts as a point of contact for student wellness, and volunteers with the Kids Help Phone, among other organizations.
Haaziq Altaf arrived in Canada from Pakistan in 2002. While in high school, Haaziq became an inclusion activist working closely with people with developmental disabilities. He undertook a project at Genesis Centre to help people with sensory issues enjoy the outdoor spaces more. Currently, he is a third year mechanical engineering student with a minor in digital engineering at the University of Calgary. Haaziq received numerous scholarships and was selected to be Mayor for a Day in 2017. He volunteers at several organizations, including the Core Connections program at Immigrant Services Calgary.
Ishnoor Dhillon immigrated to Canada in 2010 from India. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in visual studies with a minor in philosophy at the University of Calgary (UofC). Last spring, Ishnoor was accepted into UofC’s Scholar’s Academy. In March 2020, she was selected to showcase her artwork in an exhibition and has been part of six other exhibitions since then. Ishnoor is a youth program facilitator at the Women’s Centre of Calgary, president of the PULL and PUSH Student Exhibitions, and a sergeant for Calgary Police Cadet Corps. Ishoor was awarded the Dr. Gary McPherson Leadership Scholarship.
Winjoy Tiop moved to Canada from Kenya in 2005. Winjoy is in her third year at the University of Calgary (UofC), studying chemistry with a minor in computer science. Winjoy developed an automated process to make the analysis of EGG data more efficient and user-friendly through her involvement with Dr. Scantlebury's Lab. She is the co-founder of Golden Mti, an organization which seeks to support Black and Indigenous youth in pursuing further education by offering tutoring, workshops, and mentorship. Winjoy is an active member of her community and volunteers in several organizations, including the Football Hockey Link.