Richmond Hill, ON
Mikayla is an exceptional student and humanitarian leader currently attending the University of Guelph, who has dedicated herself to helping others. She uses her own experiences with mental health challenges to help others, including founding Youth Voices of Ontario to promote student discussion of mental health in high schools.
Mikayla has faced challenges in relation to her mental health, but over the years, she has demonstrated her resilience and learned to balance her commitments with healthy, active living while continuing to contribute to the welfare of others. She led the Wellness Initiative Council and We Unite clubs at her school, founded on the idea of helping others. Additionally, she worked extensively with 360°Kids Shelter for At-Risk and Homeless Youth in various roles to help youth in her region.
During the pandemic, Mikayla adapted to online learning, continued to excel in academics, and ensured that the clubs she was involved in continued to run despite the restrictions. She led initiatives to encourage others to find community, creating much-needed, inclusive spaces for all.
Aspiring to become a wildlife veterinarian and conservationist, Mikayla’s desire to help others extends beyond her peers as she prepares to continue advocating for the protection of the environment, as well as biodiversity and wildlife conservation.
“I realized that by stepping outside of myself, I am making a meaningful contribution by advocating, listening, and mentoring; and although seemingly negligible, small actions inspire great impact.” – Mikayla Astroff
Port Perry, ON
Paityn is an exceptional advocate, for the rights of people with financial barriers, to access services and community opportunities. She has worked tirelessly to help others break free from the cycle of poverty through fundraisers and programs aimed at inclusion and equality. Having faced financial difficulties as a self-sufficient teen, Paityn understands the profound impact poverty and exclusion can have on individuals and families and the complexity of requiring emotional and physical support.
Paityn has developed and organized fundraisers, raising thousands of dollars to give students extracurricular opportunities they otherwise could not afford. She further fights against the scourge of poverty by working for food organization services and encouraging the community to place orders and donate for individuals in need. She further acted in a lead role and was the spokesperson for St Joseph’s School’s play to fundraise money for the local hospital. The fundraiser promoted human welfare through financial support for healthcare and raised $10,000 for the hospital.
Aspiring to become a neurosurgeon, Paityn is committed to discovering a deeper understanding of the brain’s full function and the causes of neurological disorders to alleviate the distress that individuals face. Her experiences with poverty inspire her to also dedicate her future career to advocating for the less fortunate and encouraging better, more equitable healthcare.
“I have the motivation to become the kind of surgeon I envision, one who will strive for equal accessibility and understanding. Surgeons are more than just the doctors of their patients. They are members of a worldwide team driven to create a better way of life for citizens of the entire world.” – Paityn Bobay
Brendon was raised in a single-parent household and grew up financially stressed. Past traumas from bullying and other childhood experiences have challenged his mental health, but he perseveres and embodies a genuine leader’s resilience and positive determination.
Brendon has turned trauma into leadership skills and commitment to the community. A sports team captain, Brendon combines his outstanding skills with a strong sense of discipline and sportsmanship while maintaining Honour Roll grades.
As a volunteer baseball coach with the Mahoney Bears Baseball program in Hamilton, Ontario, Brendon supports and mentors children at the non-profit drop-in camp. At St. John Elementary School, he brings joy to children and families by producing videos of students engaging in the arts, such as musicals and skits. He is also an ambassador at his high school, working with new students to help them adapt.
Brendon aspires to become a school teacher. His words describe it best, “I know my future needs to be spent helping people, and I have known that for a very long time. I have just learned that I can use my past as fuel for others’ futures. I don’t know who I’m going to help along the way, I don’t know how many, but I know that changing the world starts with changing the life of a single person for the better, and that is exactly what I’m going to do one person at a time.” – Brendon Gallacher
From a young age, Cassandra has dedicated herself to helping others. As a Special Olympics coach, Member of Greg Kelly’s Youth Council, and Pointe-Claire Youth Advisory Board member, she embodies humanitarianism in youth. Through her volunteerism and fundraising efforts, she has raised enough money to build a school in India, physically helped build a school in Ecuador, raised money to help pay for a clean water system in India, raised money for Montreal Children’s Hospital, and provided meals to school children in Haiti.
Her work for Girl Guides of Canada has seen her sit on the National Youth Council being the voice for girls today, serve as the youngest person to sit on the Provincial Quebec Council as the Youth Forum Chair, and co-lead two units
While in the North South Studies program at Dawson College, Cassandra plans to continue helping others through further studies at university in International Development. She aspires to represent Canada abroad and eventually serve her community as an elected official.
“I hope that at some point, I have inspired others as well to take their own actions for what they believe in and find their way to pay it forward. Every small positive action creates a ripple, and with enough of these ripples, we will together form a wave of positive change.” – Cassandra Gillen
During a fundraising run, it was a chance encounter to raise awareness for homelessness that changed Chloe’s life and put her on her path to humanitarianism. It was a cold November day in Edmonton when she stopped to give supplies to a homeless man she had encountered along the run, and his words have stayed with her since: “It is tough to be on the streets, especially in the winter. But each day I tell myself that every day I get through is one day closer to summer”.
This encounter helped Chloe realize her passion for helping those in need. She has since raised thousands for the Make A Wish Foundation and worked to support and fundraise for Edmonton’s Ronald McDonald House. She is a Leader of the Graduate Council at Jasper Place High School, Captain of multiple Food Drives, Volunteer at the Edmonton Food Bank, and Peer Tutor.
Chloe is also an accomplished athlete. At 15, she earned her spot on the boys tackle football team and became a vital team member. Overcoming the doubts and biases of others, she fought for her spot and demonstrated she belonged on the team that would become her sports family.
The years of hard work captaining sports teams, volunteering at food banks and running community events taught her about leadership, communication, and passion for giving back. She is currently studying Psychology at the University of Alberta and aspiring to be a Lawyer, Psychologist or Teacher, all with the goal of helping others.
“I am 18 years old and know my time is limited; I don’t need to trust the process leading to my future, I need to create it. I may not have run across Canada like Terry Fox, but I share the same dedication to my goals; my life is my marathon. I will empower others to have confidence in themselves, sports and their community” – Chloe Gylander
David is an outstanding leader and community representative. In 2017, he founded The Global Spotlight Foundation, an international student initiative that transforms youth into changemakers through stories and mentorship. Since then, David has led numerous community projects, including human libraries, conferences, and town halls. He has proudly delivered three TEDx talks and represented Canada through the Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the 2019 Vimy Pilgrimage Award and as a Yale Young Global Scholar.
During the pandemic, David served on COVID-19 Community Youth Town Halls, reaching out to all levels of government to host virtual town halls in support of youth awareness while launching the Helping Heroes online platform to connect community members during lockdown.
Last year, David was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provide policy advice to the Government of Canada through his Youth Council. As one of its leaders, David successfully advocated for the national conversion therapy ban and for increased funding for marginalized communities in the federal budget.
David’s strength and determination come in part from his struggles growing up. By changing his health through diet and habits, he’s had a series of personal transformations that he uses as motivation for community change. David’s perseverance, disciple, leadership skills and love of community make him stand out. He aspires to study political science or marketing and give back through public service.
“I feel incredibly proud to take on this role of fostering safe spaces for my peers to share who they are without inhibition. It’s inspired me to continue on this path in life and serve as a policymaker in our federal government — helping create a more inclusive Canada that works for everyone.” – David He
Justin is a Métis, LGBTQ2+ Youth from a small rural town of Swan River, Manitoba. Despite the challenges of racial stereotypes and bullying he faced and the ensuing battles with anxiety, he has emerged as an important youth leader in Manitoba.
Justin serves as a Student Representative on the Louis Riel Institute Board of Directors, Student Representative of Canadian International Council MB, and Male Co-President of the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Students Association.
Humanitarianism has been at the forefront of his volunteerism and advocacy since his early teens. He has been involved with the Manitoba Métis Federation since 2015, volunteering at hundreds of events, helping to establish Youth Committees in all seven regions in Manitoba, establishing Youth representatives at the local level, and helping pass funding for Métis Youth initiatives.
Since 2019 he has volunteer-led the “Recording our History” Métis Elder and Youth interviews for the Northwest Métis Council, filming Elders and Youth from the Northwest region of Manitoba in an interview format. In 2022, he founded an Indigenous youth clothing brand called “O’KANATA Apparel,” in which 10% of each purchase supports Indigenous Youth through scholarships and community support.
Justin is attending the University of Manitoba to study political science and is looking forward to a career as a Politician, Filmmaker, or Journalist. Aptly, his motto is: “It’s important to learn from others as much as you learn from a textbook.”
“I believe it’s imperative to fight for what can be improved in our world and to keep on fighting even if you get tired of life getting in the way. The message that the world can be a better place lives on, and it lives on through Terry’s legacy and through the Terry Fox Foundation. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s worth the journey even more if you have hope.” – Justin Langan
Katrina’s dedication to community has made volunteerism a life-long passion for her. She volunteered as a
Production Assistant for Meraki Theatre Productions, an independent theatre company whose mission is to make
meaningful experiences that create change and nurture compassion, for their children’s play “Quest” during
Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2019. Katrina was soon invited to join the company, supporting youth theatre camps and
playwriting workshops. Katrina also fills administrative and committee roles for the Manitoba Choral Association, an
organization at the heart of choral and music advocacy in her province.
Katrina dedicates herself to Project Pulse Winnipeg, a branch of a student-led, nationwide initiative that hosts
conferences to engage students in the field of health sciences. As a daughter of BIPOC immigrants, her deep
connection with her diverse inner-city high school community helped her find solace and comradery through shared
adversity and reinforced her grit. It manifests as advocacy for inclusive and accessible educational opportunities for
students, actions fuelled by gratitude, and a determination to give back. Katrina’s experiences, vision, leadership, and
trailblazing qualities led to her appointment as President of the Executive Team in Grade 12, and currently as
Katrina is Vice President Communications of Student Council at Canadian Mennonite University, where she studies
Biochemistry and Music and sings in choirs. Alongside commitments previously mentioned, she also leads the
Science Students’ Association in collaboration with peers who are avid about inviting the community into a
celebration of science. She dreams of a career to explore and innovate within the fields of neuroscience, pediatrics,
and medical humanities.
“Actively seeking opportunities for personal growth and exploring my goals empowers me to take care of others and
serve initiatives with the things I have learned…Embracing the power of kind, inclusive, and compassionate
interpersonal relationships allows me to hear those who are timid, speak up for buried concerns, and show
tenderness to those who suffer in silence.” – Katrina Lengsavath
Alex was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) at age 4. The disease is not just a physical one – it impacts every aspect of life. Living with T1D has helped Alex to have insight and a heightened awareness of the struggles of others. Despite managing a disease that never takes a break, and all the challenges that comes with it he has persevered and used his experiences to help others, raising awareness about T1D, serving as a peer mentor and volunteering within the community.
Beginning as an ambassador for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) at the age of five, Alex has always found ways to use his chronic illness as a means of understanding and helping others. The strength and hope JDRF gave him as a child inspired him to also focus on a cure, and fundraising became a passion for him. His athletic ability also created opportunities for him to share his experiences as an athlete with T1D. He has provided one-on-one support to people impacted by T1D, spoken about his experiences to volunteers, medical students, health professionals and families working through their T1D journeys.
Alex seeks to inspire others. “When we aim to support one another, build resilience, help others to gain confidence, and make connections with other people we see these individuals carry that forward to others. This is what improves human welfare. It creates a ripple effect and has a sustainable impact. I hope the long-term impact of what I do results in others paying it forward and creating change,” he said.
Alex is graduating from Charles P Allen High School and plans to attend the University of New Brunswick, taking a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology.
“Being a part of something bigger than myself is something I use as my north star. Going forward, I think there is only ‘up’. I want to keep learning and progress as a humanitarian and continue to do meaningful things, create awareness, and connect with people. I will always be an advocate for T1D, but I will not stop there.” – Alex Munn
Nazifa and her family moved to Vancouver from Bangladesh when she was eight years old. Her family faced poverty, language and cultural barriers, and the social pressure of living in one of the highest-risk housing projects in the region. They had difficulty communicating and adapting to their new environment with limited English language skills, but Nazifa has become a leader in her school and community with persistence and resilience.
As President of the Britannia Leo Club, Nazifa leads a group of students working to build asense of community by engaging their peers in volunteer opportunities while fundraising for humanitarian causes. Nazifa prioritizes creating a safe and inclusive space where members feel comfortable sharing their ideas about events, places to donate, and how the club should be run. They have raised money for a newly built community center in Kamloops supporting Residential School survivors and many more. Nazifa is also the Chair of the Britannia Youth Council, a School Ambassador of Girls Can Talk Society, and a youth collaborator on AgendaGap (a UBC mental health research project) where they made calls to action about racism’s impact on youth mental health. Additionally, she volunteers for the Britannia Secondary School and Community Centre and the BIPOC Club, which strives to create a safe, inclusive, and equitable space for BIPOC students in the community. A passionate social justice advocate, she and her peers, started the first student-run BIPOC club in schools across the Vancouver School Board. She further created a new recycling system for her high school through a community project called YCAN (YMCA Community Action Network).
Nazifa plans to attend the University of British Columbia to study Psychology as she follows her career goals of becoming a criminal lawyer.
“The injustices I have faced have inspired me to make changes on a large scale, which is where my ambitions of becoming a criminal lawyer stem from. My strong determination to become a criminal lawyer started at an early age because I have always been passionate about serving my community and this inspired me to represent marginalized communities in court. It is critical for me to advocate for equity for myself and people like me in the next generation.” – Nazifa Nawal
South Brook, NL
Zachary’s journey towards humanitarianism began with his brother, who will always be his greatest inspiration. His family’s experiences with mental illness, suicide, and their journey toward health have given Zachary a specific drive to help others going through similar challenges.
From a small town in Newfoundland, Zachary used his ingenuity and resources to create opportunities to give back. He has worked tirelessly for seniors in his community, where few volunteer resources are available. He began collecting bottles to fundraise at a young age, and when he was able began volunteering at the regional recycling plant, where he could see his contribution take shape.
While his early fundraising efforts initially would go towards the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. Johns, where he had a cousin in care, his life experiences and observations around his community led him to shift towards donating the money he collected to fight the never-ending war on poverty.
Zachary is currently in grade 12 at Indian River High School, where he is maintaining an Honors average in academic and advanced courses. He is a member of the Student Leadership Group and has been a member of softball, outdoor and indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and ball hockey. He is recognized widely in his community for his desire and ability to help others.
Zachary is planning to attend the Memorial University of Newfoundland to study Psychology. His dream is to become a psychiatrist and remain in areas of Newfoundland and Labrador where services are desperately needed.
“Through my struggles, I’ve been able to see how important Terry really was to not only Canada but the world. He had a goal he did not back down from, even death itself couldn’t stop him from achieving that goal. I strive every day to be more like Terry Fox.” – Zachary Newman
Coming from an incredibly hardworking immigrant family, Ye-Jean grew up witnessing her parents struggle working long days in their family’s restaurant. Furthermore, from her university Health Sciences courses, she learned more about how social determinants of health, including financial and food insecurity, place disadvantaged families at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Inspired by her experiences and Terry Fox’s message, “I am determined to take myself to the limit for this cause”, Ye-Jean co-founded her university’s first youth-led food education club—the Home Food Community Kitchen. Particularly from the beginning of the pandemic, the Home Food team has been working diligently to spread awareness on cooking nutritious, affordable, and ethnically diverse meals for vulnerable families and students. To reach their mission, volunteers continue to create free meal kits and host cook-a-longs with the support of Health Sciences faculty advisors, the Government of Canada, charity gardens, and other student-focused advocacy clubs.
Motivated to empower youth, Ye-Jean further helps lead CanShine Tutoring, a non-profit that brings free or subsidized tutoring lessons to underprivileged youth. She also volunteers as a mentor for high school and university students, performs with her cello to share the love of music with senior home residents, and enjoys serving as a public speaking coach. Moreover, Ye-Jean is helping to lead a research project testing novel immunotherapies for treating sarcomas in affected canine patients.
Currently, Ye-Jean is a third-year student at the University of Calgary studying Health Sciences and Music and will be pursuing her medical degree in the upcoming semesters. Her goal is to become a clinician-scientist while contributing to the area of public health. She also seeks to continue pursuing her passion for music and art as a concert cellist, writer, and public speaker.
“Overall, I am incredibly driven to serve as a torchbearer carrying Terry Fox’s gift of hope onwards towards a disease-free future for all.” – Ye-Jean Park
Ashki has lived many lives for a very young woman. At 11, she and her family fled Kurdistan and gender-based persecution with the hopes of receiving a better education and living a better life. The long, perilous journey crossing borders on foot took a lot out of her family, but facing deportation orders after arriving to Canada will forever haunt her. Once in Canada, it was her responsibility to appeal to the Canadian government as the primary English speaker in her family.
Now living in a single-low-income household in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, Ashki and her family work hard to overcome educational, financial and language barriers. Ashki takes on responsibility for helping her siblings, and working a part-time job as a barista. However, this does not deter Ashki; instead, it makes her stronger and inspires her to help others in need.
Since arriving in Canada in 2017, Ashki has worked hard to develop a community around her and her culture and to educate people about diversity. She is the Student Council President at Britannia Secondary School, Co-founder of The Ripple Effect, an organization working to educate, spread awareness and empower youth; Captain for Ride to Refuge fundraising efforts; Co-founder and President of Girls Can Talk Society, to ensure that international migrant and gender-based issues are addressed in the community; a Member of Britannia Community Center Youth Council and the Youth Representative on the Britannia Board of Management.
Even throughout the harshness of life, Ashki has always cherished learning with a deep passion. She has taken various academically advanced courses, such as IB Biology and Chemistry, an AI course from Stanford, and a writing course from Harvard. Her academic curiosity has led her to receive province-wide awards for science, such Biochemistry and Microbiology awards from the University of British Columbia and a publication in the Canadian Science Fair Journal.
Ashki is now in her final year at Britannia Secondary School and plans to attend the University of British Columbia to study science with the goal of becoming a surgeon and family doctor.
“The decisions around my education and leaving Kurdistan were risks informed by my hopes and ideas for the future; although challenging, all these difficult steps and obstacles have led me closer to my goals.”
“As a refugee, I know the challenges of displacement, vulnerability and exploitation that threaten newcomers in Canada.” – Ashki Shkur
Caleb stands out as the top academic student, a member of several varsity teams and bands, and a leader within the music department at Bear Creek Secondary School.
Despite being hospitalized for a lengthy period due to an eating disorder, Caleb overcame the stigma attached, especially as a male with anorexia, and continues to find ways to serve his community in the mental health space in his school as well as on Indigenous reserves such as Pikangikum: a northern community with the highest suicide rate in the world. Having grown up with his mother suffering from a brain tumour, his determination and drive to overcome obstacles, all while he was still flourishing in all of his surrounding areas, like school work, sports teams, and his volunteer work is an inspiration to others.
Caleb has served as a Group Leader, Event Coordinator, and Volunteer Camp Counsellor at Waterdown Community Church, Jr High Programming Leader at WIRED, Translator for refugees with the
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Refugee and Indigenous Projects Volunteer for the New Churches Network with a specific passion for mental health support.
Caleb aspires to study Biomedical Sciences to become an International Emergency Relief Neurosurgeon while pursuing his interest in missionary and entrepreneurial activities.
“Terry Fox set an example that will never be forgotten, and I aspire to continue his mission of finding a cure for cancer, specifically focused on treatments for tumours and cancers of the brain. I am passionate about accessibility and equity within healthcare.” – Caleb Small
Waskesiu Lake, SK
Quinn is remarkable in how she meets, persists and challenges adversity and the status quo. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (quadriplegia), and Scoliosis, she faces challenges head-on with courage and positivity. Quinn sees challenges as opportunities to gently educate others, remove barriers and build a more inclusive world.
A passionate advocate for accessibility, Quinn serves as a Youth Accessibility Leader in her community. She has empowered women and girls across the globe through water security projects. During the pandemic, she organized and hosted Sew-in-Saturdays with volunteers across Saskatchewan to make and distribute thousands of masks in Prince Albert. She contributed art and awareness for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and continues to advocate for the creation of a Canada Disability Benefit.
As an artist, she paints portraits of SPCA dogs in order to sponsor dog adoptions at the Prince Albert SPCA. A member of the Carlton Collection Builders, she works with other students who are passionate about art and social justice to create collections of art that convey the voices of youth on important issues.
Quinn plans to further her work as a disability advocate by taking an undergraduate BA degree in Sociology and Disability Studies and working towards a career as an inclusion and accessibility consultant.
“Disabilities reveal barriers in communities. I am motivated to help reduce barriers that people with disabilities face each day. Sometimes the world isn’t always built to include people with disabilities. I want to change that. I can be a strong advocate for equal treatment, for inclusion, for equal opportunities so that more people with disabilities can do ordinary things like complete school, get jobs, live in inclusive communities and be part of community life.” – Quinn Smith-Windsor
Maddison’s health care journey started when she was 13 years old when she underwent heart surgery. Since then, she has experienced multiple emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Her health has inspired her to make a difference for her community’s sick and injured children.
She advocates for youth to help them find their voices and works with advisory boards and advocacy platforms to push for a healthcare system that looks past diagnosis and symptoms and treats the whole person.
Maddison is the founder of HUGS, a program committed to improving kids mental health and quality of life during their hospital stays through experiences, funds and support. She is the author of the charity children’s empowerment book called “Your Secret Superpower: Ignite your SPARK”, inspiring youth to take action. In addition, she is a Special Olympics Coach, volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house, and board member on both the Alberta Children’s Hospital Child and Youth Advisory Council and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Youth Philanthropy Council. As an Alberta Health Services Youth Health Advocate, she contributes substantial efforts toward youth mental health awareness and campaigning initiatives. She has consulted on, and assisted in creating school suicide protocols, hospital staff education programs, youth vaccination information sheets, best practice protocols for the use of medical opioids in youth, policies on how to address vaccine worries in children and created hospital policies addressing fears and comfort measures during labs and medical procedures. As a board member of the Transition Research Advisory Council, she assists teens in understanding and preparing for transitioning into the adult healthcare system.
Maddison plans to continue her work in health sciences by studying at the University of Calgary next year, focusing on a career as a medical researcher, physician/ cardiologist, and hospital administrator.
“Like Terry Fox, my health journey not only taught me about my inner strength, resilience and perseverance, but it caused a paradigm shift in my thinking and actions. Self-centeredness and selfishness became replaced with compassion and empathy.” -Maddison Tory
Moving to Canada as an immigrant in 2016, Sarthak received ELL support throughout his schooling. He recognized the benefit the support he received helped overcome challenging barriers and aided him as he settled into a new culture and life in Canada. Being raised in a low-income immigrant family, Sarthak understands well the cultural and financial challenges of many of his peers. He uses this experience and what he has learned from living in a low-income community to identify and create opportunities for others.
A grade 12 student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary High School, he is the President of Learn Lab, where he mentors and tutors at-risk pupils. The major goal of this program is to model and guide students toward making socially responsible decisions. He further uses his passion for engineering to make a positive change in the lives of others. Sarthak innovated an affordable Smart Navigation Cane to aid blind and visually impaired individuals. The cane scans the surrounding environment and buzzes/vibrates when it detects nearby obstructions. He has been in contact with several Non-profit organizations globally to donate these canes. Sarthak is the captain of his school’s Royals Robotics team, which qualified to the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIRST Robotics Regional Championship.
He is also an executive member of the Royal Brotherhood Leadership group, leads a weightlifting club, and helps organize various school events as being part of the Student and Grad Council. Sarthak also volunteers with the Surrey Food Bank, a non-profit, charitable organization. Additionally, he leads a community gala that has raised over $100,000 for the Surrey Memorial Hospital by selling raffle tickets, holding contests, and seeking donations from outside community groups. He will be attending the University of British Columbia this fall to study applied sciences on his path to becoming a computer engineer.
“Knowing that one out of every thirty-three individuals require humanitarian assistance should influence anyone to help those in need. We all come from diverse backgrounds and experience a variety of challenges throughout our lifetime. It is crucial for us to help one another and contribute to making our world a better place.” – Sarthak Tyagi