These young humanitarians have worked tirelessly to channel the same values and goals that Terry Fox held, be it a passion for helping those in need or demonstrating perseverance in the face of adversity. The following students are currently being supported through their first post-secondary degrees:

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | All Current Recipients

Maryam Al-Sabawi
London, ON

Maryam Al-Sabawi is 17 years old and is in her senior year at Saint André Bessette Catholic Secondary School. Leading with compassion, determination and integrity, Maryam is committed to combating Islamophobia through education and advocacy. As a visible Muslim, Maryam has experienced Islamophobia firsthand, with fears intensified after losing a close friend and family to a hate crime.  

Maryam has emerged as a community leader, and is founder of the Youth Coalition combating Islamophobia (YCCI) where she tirelessly works to create a safer and more inclusive environment. 

Through her humanitarian efforts, Maryam has inspired tangible change, displaying resilience and courage beyond her years. Through Islamic Relief Canada, Maryam has been able to make an impact abroad in trips to Bosnia, Turkey, and South Africa.  

Maryam explains, “It was during my most vulnerable moments that I decided that fear would not cripple me, nor define me. I realized that I cannot control what happens to me, but I can control how I choose to respond.” 

Maryam plans to study Governance, Leadership, and Ethics at Huron University College.  

Armine Arslanian
North York, ON

Breaking a cycle of mistreatment requires immense courage. Armine’s bravery in confronting years of abuse spurred her to channel that strength into establishing safe spaces for youth, ensuring they have the voice she was denied. 

Her dedication to community service shines through her work at The Wordswell Neighbourhood Centre, The Ruhi Training Institute, and various volunteer initiatives. Armine’s compassion, resilience, and determination to serve others have made a lasting impact on her community. Her volunteerism with the Armenian community has taught her that regardless of circumstances, one can make a difference and bring the community together. 

It is Armine’s belief that “Community involvement has brought me close to the reality of the people I live alongside. With tangible outcomes that benefit others, I now use my experiences and relationships with the community to empower the youth and teach them that even though they are young, they also have a voice and opinions that matter.” 

Now that she is 17, Armine plans to attend university, to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.

Isabella Bae
Richmond, BC

Isabella’s passion for humanitarianism is one fueled by her life experiences and adversities. Isabella’s experiences and involvement in the community ignited a passion for addressing societal issues, particularly hunger and food insecurity, as well as advocating for cancer patients inspired by her late aunt’s battle. 

Throughout her life, Isabella has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serving her community. She advocates for cancer patients, organizes events for seniors, volunteers at women’s shelters, coaches volleyball and cheerleading, and is a competitive cheerleader and role model to young athletes. Isabella consistently dedicates her time and energy to making a positive impact and being an inspiration to others. 

“I approach every endeavor with an open heart, driven by the desire to contribute without expecting personal gain. This altruistic mindset becomes a driving force that empowers me to overcome challenges and fuels my determination to succeed,” says Isabella. 

She plans on attending the University of British Columbia to study commerce and business.  

Isis Darosa
Surrey, BC

Isis Darosa, a first-generation Canadian from a family of Vietnamese refugees, embodies resilience and compassion. Growing up amidst financial hardship, she assumed the role of a secondary parental figure for her younger autistic brother, facing racism and discrimination for her sexuality and ethnicity at school.

Despite significant adversity, including homelessness during her grade 12 year, Isis remained steadfast in her pursuit of helping others. She became certified in applied behaviour analysis therapy and is a trained behavioural interventionist. Isis has over a decade of experience working with the developmentally disabled while strongly engaging in activism for minorities.

Her commitment to humanitarianism is evidenced by over 10,000 hours of volunteer work, from spearheading fundraising initiatives, providing care for at-risk youth, and being the cofounder and keynote speaker annually at Kelowna Women’s Day. Isis’ remarkable dedication and unwavering spirit make her a beacon of hope and inspiration.

In addition, Isis is a devoted athlete, achieving the award of Top Swimmer Representing Canada in International Children’s Games, Top Cross Country Junior Girl in Kelowna, and has obtained the title of 1st Degree MMA International Black Belt and Military Combat Diploma specializing in Street Self Defense.

Isis believes that, “When we are inspired to change our negative behaviors from our own free will, our individual steps along our journey become the journey that we are all walking together to create a more equitable world for all.” 

Isis is continuing her studies towards a PhD of Clinical Psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Alexandra Elmslie
Guelph, ON

After receiving a diagnosis of severe ADHD and generalized anxiety at a young age, Alexandra struggled with managing her neurodivergence. Although her disability was invisible, its impact was very real. Upon realizing that neurodiversity was a lifelong endeavour, she dedicated her life to establishing methods of working alongside—not against—her brain. With this unique perspective, Alexandra emerged as a beacon of resilience and compassion and has since been actively supporting and advocating for others with “invisible disabilities.” 

Alexandra’s impact extends beyond personal triumphs, evidenced by her leadership roles and volunteer efforts. Whether conducting ADHD research at Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute, supporting occupational therapy for dementia patients at the Parkwood Mental Health Hospital, or empowering children impacted by cancer at Campfire Circle, Alexandra’s compassion and empathy shine brightly. From providing music education to disadvantaged youth, to coaching a Special Olympics swim team, to assisting therapeutic horseback riding lessons, she displays a strong commitment to supporting others and creating an equitable and inclusive environment on a local and provincial scale.

“I firmly believe that psychological services are a universal human right that should be accessible to all. I hope to equip neurodiverse youth with the knowledge to identify their struggles, the courage to reach out for help when required, and the support to navigate their personal journey,” explains Alexandra.

Alexandra is currently pursuing a Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience degree with Scholar’s Electives designation at Western University. Motivated by her passion for equitable psychological support, Alexandra plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and provide services to socioeconomically disadvantaged youth using her lived experience. 

Jamie He
Vancouver, BC

Jamie’s narrative epitomizes resilience, empathy, and an unwavering dedication to both family and community. Raised in a small town, Jamie switched schools after experiencing bullying and racism, eventually transitioning to homeschooling at 12 to care for her ailing parents amidst her own mental health challenges. Despite these hardships, Jamie’s determination propelled her to graduate high school early and start her studies at the University of British Columbia at age 15 while assuming financial responsibilities and working to support her family. Accepted into the Transition Program for Gifted Students at UBC at a young age, Jamie excelled academically while balancing her familial duties. Her compassion extended far beyond the classroom as she fundraised for charitable causes and volunteered extensively in various capacities, from mentoring to coaching.  

A gifted poet and lifeguard, Jamie’s talents shine brightly, channeling her pain from her adversity into profound commitment to humanitarian causes. She is the founder of Sprouting Saplings, a non-profit organization aimed at enhancing child development, and serves as an Officer on the Humanitarian Board of UBC, where she presented on the stigma of reproductive health at a conference this year.  

Jamie tells us that “Despite the hardships I have faced, my heart does not slowly beat: it pounds more robustly than ever, waiting for the next challenge.” 

Just finished with her first year, Jamie looks forward to embarking on her nursing studies at the University of British Columbia, laying the groundwork for a career in medicine. 

Kate Hunter
Surrey, BC

Facing a phobia of needles alongside a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at a young age was no small hurdle for Kate. The triumph over this fear was pivotal, enabling her to manage her health independently and sparking her dedication to fundraising for a cure as a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation ambassador.

Kate balances her French immersion education while devoting time to coaching the school swim team, working as a Lifeguard, and playing competitive rugby. Her commitment to inclusivity extends to fostering a more accessible environment, such as providing accommodations for the hearing-impaired students in her school. From advocating for diversity to volunteering with Nightshift Ministries to serve meals to the homeless, Kate consistently exhibits empathy and initiative. Her dedication to community service, coupled with her resilience and compassion sets her apart as an aspiring humanitarian and leader.

“Being able to experience my actions improving the lives of others has shaped me into the person I am today. It inspires me to continue helping others whenever I am given the chance,” says Kate.

Kate is looking forward to advancing her education with a business degree while continuing her volunteer work and service to others. 

Christel Mazzek
Abbotsford, BC

Christel’s journey from Aleppo, Syria, to Canada stands as a testament to her resilience and compassion. Enduring the turmoil of fleeing the war in her home country at age six, she spent five years in Lebanon before resettling in Canada. Despite the challenges of adapting to a new culture and language, Christel has emerged as a guiding light of hope and unity within her community, while maintaining a 99% average throughout her high school years. Known for her artistic talent and steadfast determination, she utilizes her experiences to build bridges with others facing isolation. As a result, she has founded an art club in her school community and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s newspaper. 

Christel’s impact extends far and wide as she actively participates in social justice initiatives, volunteers at local art galleries, and holds the position as Chief of Marketing for the youth-led Vancouver Kindness Movement. Her story serves as a source of inspiration to all who encounter it, a reminder of the transformative power of resilience and kindness in overcoming adversity.

As Christel looks to the future, she shares, “The impact I seek goes beyond personal academic accomplishments; it is focused on ensuring the well-being of others and the environment.”

Christel plans to begin her undergraduate journey at the University of British Columbia in the fall and hopes to pursue medicine in the future. 

Shubh Patel
Grande Prarie, AB

Shubh’s journey embodies resilience, empathy, and an unyielding commitment to positive change. Born in India, Shubh overcame cultural challenges and discrimination as an immigrant in Canada. His early struggles with financial hardship and fibrous dysplasia inspired him to ensure others face fewer obstacles, deeply shaping his humanitarian spirit. 

As past President at his high school and the University of Calgary’s Health Sciences Students’ Association, and as a President of his medical school’s class at the University of Toronto, Shubh has advocated fiercely for student wellness, equity, diversity, and inclusion. His leadership has significantly impacted his community, particularly through anti-bullying and mental health destigmatization initiatives. 

Leading the Interact and Rotaract Clubs, Shubh spearheaded projects that raised over $120,000 for charity. As a volunteer with Alberta Health Services, Shubh spearheaded significant improvements in patient care across 19 facilities. His efforts with Medical Makers introduced sustainable, 3D-printed healthcare solutions to underserved areas worldwide. 

Awarded the Schulich Leader Scholarship for his academic and community service achievements, Shubh co-founded The Debtless Students, helping secure over $3M in scholarships for students facing financial barriers.  

Shubh tells us, “As a student, my passion fuels my curious and diligent nature. As a leader, I use my passion as one of my many ways to move others in the community to create a positive change. As a humanitarian, my passion fuels my desire to make someone’s life better than it is.” 

Shubh is currently studying Medicine at the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine. 

Baljot Rai
Winnipeg, MB

Embodying selfless service, Baljot’s experiences and perspectives fuel him to advocate for others. His journey is marked with adversity, from experiencing intergenerational trauma and racism to prejudice for his turban. However, instead of letting these challenges define him, Baljot uses them as a driving force for his service to others.  

Drawing from familial experiences with incarceration, Baljot is committed to restoring the dignity of inmates who belong to minority faiths by providing them with spiritual and religious resources. He founded the ‘One in All’ Project, which supplies religious, spiritual, and self-improvement resources to inmates in Manitoba prisons, collaborating with leaders from various faiths to ensure inclusivity and to address the ongoing human rights violations occurring within prison walls. Recently, he has been working with the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation to expand the reach of this project to Indigenous inmates. 

Despite a multitude of pressures and expectations, Baljot has continued to forge his own path. He participates in many extracurricular activities while continuing to excel academically. He serves as a leader for the Youth in Philanthropy Club, organizes educational campaigns on poverty and reconciliation, and advocates for human rights and social justice within his school and broader community.  

Baljot’s compassion, leadership, and unwavering dedication propel him towards the future. He strongly believes that youth must shun the status quo and take action against the issues which have been neglected for far too long. 

He tells us, “The next generation must be the generation of humanitarians, for our world has endured far too much for conflict to continue. Ensuring that everyone’s dignity is respected is a value close to my heart.”

Baljot will study Water Science and Interfaith Studies at the University of British Columbia. 

Diya Reddy
Surrey, BC

Diya’s empowerment lies in her ability to transform adversity into strength. She was pulled out of a domestic violent environment and navigated her youth alongside her resilient single mom. Diya faced socio-economic challenges through her childhood and battled both mental and physical health issues, along with bullying. Despite these challenges, she stays persistent in channeling her strength towards empowering women and women’s health while maintaining honour roll grades. 

This eighteen-year-old community leader is selfless with her time, and is President of the student council, a member of the school swim team, and a committed volunteer at Kinsmen Lodge and Surrey Women’s Center. She is often commended for her maturity, determination, and willingness to tackle challenges head on. Diya serves as a role model to her peers. As the youngest advocate for Surrey Women’s Center, Diya’s compassion and dedication for affecting change led her to winning a nation-wide competition, advocating to stop domestic violence against marginalized women. 

Diya shares that, “I wholeheartedly believe that working with women and advocating for their rights and health was what I was bound for. I also believe that change starts with one person, and if I help that one person, that’s one step closer to making a difference.”

Diya aspires to become the first female doctor in her family, running a clinic that would specialize in women’s health. She will be attending Simon Fraser University where she will be studying Health Sciences.

Monica Tonlé
Gatineau, QC 

Monica Tonlé, the eldest child of a first-generation immigrant family, epitomizes resilience and compassion. Despite facing challenges, such as caring for her ill grandmother and enduring bullying for her ethnicity in school, Monica’s commitment to her community and academic excellence remains unwavering.

With over 2,000 hours of volunteer work, she spearheaded numerous initiatives, including tutoring programs and leadership workshops, earning admiration for her dedication. Monica’s leadership extends beyond academics, as she fosters unity and understanding among her peers and within her communities, embodying empathy, and maturity.

Her remarkable ability to communicate effectively and solve problems creatively makes her an invaluable asset. Monica’s passion for humanitarianism is reflected in her involvement in various social and environmental projects, earning her prestigious awards and recognition. With her intelligence, empathy, and dedication, Monica is poised to make a significant impact wherever her journey takes her.

Monica shares, “Experience taught me that no matter how hopeless a situation seems, you can make a decision and bring about a positive change. No matter how small, it’s a change in the right direction and courage is not always measured in big actions, sometimes [it is measured] by the strength to raise your head.”

Monica is currently studying Medicine at McGill University.

Machaila Wesch-Dawson
London, ON

As an advocate for change, Machaila’s journey is one of triumph over adversity. Confronting bullying and a lack of support at school during her formative years, she battled depression, sparking her passion for student mental health advocacy. Faced with these challenges, this aspiring Olympian demonstrated resilience, excelling in an array of sports including speed skating, cross country/track and field, and triathlon as well as participating in theatre and improvisation. 

Her dedication to athletics is paralleled by her commitment to academic excellence and community service. Beyond the realm of sports, Machaila actively supports marginalized groups and champions mental health awareness. Her community involvement also extends to efforts supporting her love for animals and the environment.  

With unwavering resolve and kindness, Machaila emerges as an inspiring role model and humanitarian. Her accomplishments in academia, athletics and volunteerism exemplify her exceptional character and dedication to making a difference.

Machaila shares, ”I am someone who loves and dedicates her life to sport, while also having a passion for helping those around me and those in my community. I find the most fulfillment where these two passions meet’.” Through humanitarian efforts, she hopes to continue to promote good mental and physical health by encouraging more young girls to become and remain involved in sports.

Machaila graduated from École Secondaire Monseigneur Bruyère in London, Ontario. She will continue to pursue her athletic goals concurrently with a degree in biology at Université Laval. She hopes to work towards a PhD in marine biology after her undergraduate studies.

Geneva White
Calgary, AB

Geneva is a staunch advocate for mental health awareness and actively addresses global healthcare disparities.

Her humanitarian efforts span across borders, from spearheading a medical clinic support initiative in Costa Rica to implementing health education programs in Ghana. Recognized with prestigious awards such as the United States Presidential Volunteer Gold Service Award, and the Stars of Alberta Award, Geneva’s commitment to public health and social equity remains steadfast. She volunteers in health care research and has published in peer reviewed international journals.

Within her community, Geneva serves as a catalyst for change as a founding editor of her school newspaper, creating initiatives such as the Charity Spotlight, diversity advocacy and support of mental health. Her dedication to inclusivity and diversity is evident in her advocacy work and educational pursuits.

Geneva’s remarkable achievements, coupled with her compassionate spirit, mark her as a beacon of hope and inspiration, leaving an indelible impact on those she encounters.

As Geneva explains, “The world has never been more connected or influenced by remote events. Therefore, as a global citizen, it is my responsibility to act on worldwide issues and make an impactful change both in my hometown and abroad.” 

Driven by her passion for addressing healthcare inequities and promoting social justice, Geneva plans to 

use her education to embrace risk, problem-solve and fuel her drive for social change. She is pursuing a Bachelor of combined Arts and Science at McMaster and plans to continue her advocacy in journalism.