Katie Du is passionate about public health, volunteering for advocacy and health organizations in her community. In her third year of studying cell biology at the University of Alberta, Katie focuses on research that intersects with public health initiatives and bioethics. Katie has completed internships in several countries and has competed in fencing with the Canadian national team. In 2018 she won the individual title at the Commonwealth Junior Fencing Championships.
Sarah Gingles is an active environmentalist who has been a guest speaker at climate strike rallies and spoken at City Hall on environmental issues. Through her own struggles with mental health, Sarah is determined to give back to the community. She was co-president of the student council, co-captain of the field hockey team, volunteered at her high school’s breakfast program, and founded Highlanders for Humanity, a volunteer group that helps at soup kitchens and raises funds for the Child and Youth Psychiatric Unit. She hopes to continue her activism while pursuing her Bachelor of General Science degree at Queen’s University this fall.
Paige is passionate about making a positive impact in her community. She founded the Be the Change Club at school, where she led over 100 students in organizing fundraisers and campaigns for education inequality, food insecurity, and the global water crisis. As a Here4Peers Leader, she has led mental health literacy workshops for over 240 youth, and as a Lieutenant Governor’s Youth Advisor she advocates for diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, and democracy. Paige received the Governor General Award and was the Top Scholar and Top Female Athlete of her graduating class.
Shubhkarman Jaura faced many obstacles as a new immigrant to Canada but was determined to give back to his new community. “Our aptitudes are only worthwhile if they bring happiness or are beneficial to the life of another,” Shubhkarman says. An active volunteer, he has raised funds for Winnipeg’s homeless, taught English to Syrian refugees, and runs the weekly book-cart at the community hospital where he spreads cheer to senior patients. He is also co-president of the student council, a SHAD Fellow, a YMCA Exchange Student, founder of the school’s first debate club, and a Youth Nuclear Peace Summit Member, where he promotes peace and a ban on nuclear weapons. He is starting a Bachelor of Engineering degree at the University of Alberta this fall.
Toni Koshowski grew up in a home with a parent battling cancer, which fueled a desire to help others get well. An active volunteer, she has worked with the Community Transition Program to motivate and encourage students with disabilities in learning independent living skills, and through 4-H has been able to better understand the needs of vulnerable people within her community. Toni is an accomplished pianist, and has been a member of the school choir, concert and jazz bands. She is also active in hockey, rugby, soccer, and the cross-country team, and was a member of the student council and diversity committees. Toni plans to pursue a career in medicine, and volunteer for Doctors without Borders to make a difference for others.
Jolina Li’s goal is to make a positive impact by building kind and inclusive communities. She is an executive of the Leaders of Hope Club at school, organizing musical performances and letter-sending services at senior care homes, as well as running social justice-focused seminars. She mentors a young child, leads a fundraising team for girls’ education and empowerment in Northern Ghana, and is the founder of the Earth Lovers Club, a weekly litter cleanup group. Jolina will be pursuing a degree in computer science and AI at the University of Toronto, where she hopes to make a difference in the world through technology.
Shiyue Li faced many language and cultural barriers after moving to Canada from China but made a promise to spread kindness by giving back to her community. She is the vice-president of the Key Club, which organizes coat drives and dinners at homeless shelters, volunteers at the Cancer Foundation Society and Hospital, helps newly-arrived Somalian refugees, and organized a trip to Gansu, the poorest province in China, to raise funds for families in need. As the founder of TreeHugger, Shiyue also promotes urgent actions against climate change with fundraisers and beach cleanups. She is the head of the student council committee, a top speaker in provincial debates, and through her advocacy and participation in the Jewish Holocaust research project, hopes to pursue a career in law to fight for human rights.
Isabella has overcome many physical obstacles as a person with cerebral palsy and is dedicated to helping others through her advocacy. She has spoken for the rights of disabled people on the WE Day stage, planned fundraisers for Tysen’s Mission to a Million and the Ten Oaks Project, and most recently secured funding to have a local theatre company install fully accessible doors in their facility. Her love of theater has led her onstage in multiple school drama productions, as well as taking part in the Critics and Awards Program supporting theater review writing. At the University of Ottawa Isabella is determined to become a physician and help create a more diverse medical field, with doctors her younger self would have been excited to see.
Vessa’s own struggles with finances inspired her to help others. BEC’s Little Helpers, the group Vessa started to support families in need, has raised much-needed funds as well as toys, presents, and gift cards exchanged for food. She is extremely active in her school and community, acting as a student ambassador, youth tutor, mentor, rugby coach, and summer camp counselor. She hopes to continue helping others while pursuing a degree in Community Development at Acadia University.
Emma Neary was inspired to act after seeing the suffering of fellow pediatric patients during her long stays at the hospital. Diagnosed with severe IBD and inflammatory arthritis, Emma wants to improve the lives of others living with chronic illnesses. She volunteers for a student-run food kitchen as well as a GI clinical and basic science research team, acting as a patient advocate and student researcher. An Advanced Medical First Responder with St. John Ambulance, Emma is also an executive member of the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s World Health Organization Society and leader of the Peace and Justice Coalition. As an aspiring gastroenterologist and clinician-scientist, Emma hopes to give back to the IBD community through innovation, research and advocacy for more patient-focused care.
Erin Novakowski was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy as a toddler and relies on a power wheelchair for mobility. After witnessing rampant inaccessibility and ableism in everyday life, she was determined to fight for a more inclusive society. Erin uses her passion for writing and her social media platforms to advocate for Muscular Dystrophy, CureSMA, and Love for Lewiston, and also writes and edits for Cripple Magazine, an online publication for disabled young adults. She is currently studying political science at the University of Calgary, where she continues to raise awareness for disability justice.
Fatima Saleem is passionate about serving vulnerable populations and advocates for those with disabilities and mental health issues. She volunteers for Autism Speaks, Kids Help Phone, Special Olympics, and she founded the Art of Recovery Club at her school. She is currently studying immunology at the University of Calgary, and is the lead research analyst for BRIGHT International, which focuses on mental health care access. Fatima also leads an Amnesty International chapter, and co-founded Zero Waste, an international organization redirecting excess food from restaurants and bakeries to over 100,000 food-insecure individuals across four cities.
Phoebe’s passion for helping others inspired her to co-found two non-profits: one dedicated to providing clothing to youth in need, and the other, Giving Gertie, focused on facilitating acts of compassion for the homeless community. At age 15, Phoebe overcame adversity after being diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition requiring open heart surgery. Even then Phoebe put others first, sharing her story with her school to encourage students to donate to their local children’s hospital. Phoebe is extremely active in her school and community, playing soccer and ringette, working with the music department, and organizing school events and clubs as co-president of the student council. She plans to major in Environment, Sustainability, and Society at Dalhouise, where she can combine her love of science with her desire to give back.
Wing’s own history of trauma and struggles with mental health barriers inspired him to co-found Smileage, a non-profit dedicated to supporting youth with unmet needs. He also started the Firefit Team at Centennial College to get students active and worked with youth at Riverdale Collegiate to improve physical and mental well-being. Wing graduated top of his class and won the top volunteer award for his longtime support of St. John’s the Compassionate Mission, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, and Muscular Dystrophy. At the University of Guelph, Wing hopes to work towards a career in the Fire Department and Canadian Armed Forces, integrating mental health support into the work of first responders.
Mackenzie, who goes by Taylor, has worked tirelessly to expand access to STEM opportunities. She mentors youth in her community, speaks widely about diversity in science and technology, and the AI Ethics Committee she started helps create transparency in how AI is used. Taylor is passionate about helping others and feels overcoming her own difficult life circumstances has given her the resilience to see every challenge as an opportunity. She hopes to continue her humanitarian work by designing new ethical technologies at Quest University, where she is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction.
Eric Weidmann was only ten years old when he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor that sent him into 15+ seizures a day, requiring him to undergo major surgery. His early life experiences, including seeing his sister diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, inspired him to give back to others. A speaker, mentor, ambassador, and avid volunteer for Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, and Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Eric has also assisted in raising over a million dollars for the Kids with Cancer Society. He is the recipient of the Vimy Pilgrimage Award, a University of Alberta Chancellor’s Citation, and currently works at Families First Society as a Children’s Programmer focusing on family domestic violence and at-risk youth.