They are people to watch out for in 2017. Coming from an immigrant background, they embraced the opportunities offered by their host country and blossomed into something beautiful. Whether through being of service in the non-profit world, becoming a world-renowned chef, or writing books that have influenced millions, these Canadian expats show us all how it’s done.
- Igor Dobrovolskiy is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. Dobrovolskiy graduated from the Kiev State Ballet Academy with a BFA in ballet pedagogy and choreography from the Kiev National University of the Arts. He immigrated to Canada with his wife Yuliia from Kiev in 2000, and founded the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada 2 years later with Susan Chalmers-Gauvin. He is one of Canada’s most prolific choreographers and has received the 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for High Achievement in the Arts by the New Brunswick Arts Board.
- Mina Mawani is currently the President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada in Toronto. However, it’s not her first leadership role. She also served as President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and while there she backed efforts to help stop the sex trafficking of girls and women. A compassionate and accomplished leader with a particular passion for women’s issues, Mawani believes in giving back to the community and serves on several boards including Women’s College Hospital and the Advisory Board for the UN Women National Committee. Mawani’s family were southeast Asians expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in the 1970s, and she says that her early background as an immigrant has heavily impacted her decision to forge a career helping others.
- Emma Donoghue is an Irish-Canadian playwright and novelist. Her 2010 novel, Room, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and an international best-seller. It was also made into a film for which Donoghue wrote the screenplay and was later nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
- Kim Thuy is a Vietnamese-Canadian writer whose debut novel, Ru, won the Governor General’s Award for French Language Fiction. The novel also won the 2015 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by Cameron Bailey.
- Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia was born in Germany and became the president and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia (DNS) in 2013. Bahr-Gedalia is a multilingual senior executive with over 20 years of combined experience in the private and public sectors, and in academic institutions. Her career spans five geographic regions including North America, South Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. In 2015, she won the National Women in Communications and Technology Award in the category of innovator, the Top 50 CEO Award by Atlantic Business magazine, and named one of the Top 40 Change-Makers in Canada by Canadian Living magazine in January 2015.
- Vikram Vij has appeared on Dragon’s Den, Recipe to Riches, Top Chef Canada, and Chopped Canada. He says he has entrepreneurship in his blood and the goal of introducing North Americans to a modern style of Indian cuisine that goes beyond butter chicken. Vikram Vij was born in India in 1964 and lived in New Delhi and Bombay until the age of 20 before he went to study, live, and work in Austria. While he was there, he received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School. He moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. Vikram became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild in 2000, and is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine.
- Alan Diner An immigration lawyer and newly appointed Federal Court Judge of South African origin. Diner says he finds the most personal fulfillment in helping those who, like his family in 1976, seek a better life. He has helped thousands of immigrants in their settlement in Canada, from refugees, to family sponsorships, to humanitarian cases.
Are there any other expats that you know who you think deserve a mention?
Nezha Boutamine | The Edge Blog