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Alberta Newcomer Recognition Awards

2022 Award recipients

The 2022 Alberta Newcomer Recognition Award recipients enriched their communities and helped build a more inclusive province.

2022 recipients

Each recipient was born outside of Canada and now lives in Alberta where they have made a difference in their schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods or volunteer organizations. We thank them for their outstanding contributions to this province.

Career and Academics Contribution Award

Samuel Mugo

Samuel is a chemistry professor at MacEwan University, and an innovative educator. His students receive personalized experiential learning opportunities that help prepare them for dynamic careers. He has also helped students launch their careers by organizing the MacEwan chemistry internship program. This program requires community partnership work and has a 100% success rate in placing students in jobs. Samuel has also mentored many undergraduate students through his collaborative interdisciplinary research program on portable chemical sensors for agri-food, mental health and wellness monitoring diagnostics.

Patrick Etokudo

Patrick is the managing partner at Ankan Value Chain Management, a Supply Chain Management practice helping organizations maximize the value within their supply chains. He is a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree in procurement. Until recently, he was the general manager in charge of Operations Services at Sherritt International Corporation. As a seasoned leader, he has led several corporate transformation efforts, including corporate governance, structural design, mergers and acquisitions, and talent development. In his previous roles at Sherritt, Enbridge, Suncor Energy and Shell, he contributed to resolving supply chain issues and creating best practices.

Misheck Mwaba

Misheck is the President and CEO of Bow Valley College where he has led several innovative initiatives that make education more accessible. He has promoted micro-credentials that recognize specific skills and knowledge and shortens training time and costs. In order to help teach and train nurses, he implemented leading-edge virtual reality simulations and created online courses. As a way of removing barriers, he has been advocating for a pan-Canadian standardized framework for improving the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications in regulated occupations in Canada. He also led the development and implementation of a national framework for micro-credentials.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Tracy Barry

Tracy is the founder and CEO of GROW Women Leaders. GROW is a career leadership development and advancement agency designed to help women, especially immigrants, get hired and advance their careers. In 2021, she opened the GROW space, with a café, lounge and creative space. The space is open to the public, and proceeds from the facility go directly to supporting women.

Jianhua Zhu

Jianhua is the founder and owner of BioNeutra, a supplier of high quality dietary fibre ingredients and health functional products. He has created a culturally diverse and inclusive workplace for Alberta immigrants while building his company into a multi-million-dollar enterprise. He has also developed VitaFiber, a probiotic and dietary fibre, which is a natural, healthy alternative sweetener to sugar made from starch.

Harley Poon

Harley owned a grocery store and restaurants. His businesses served his communities and employed many people, including new immigrants and students. He opened a grocery store and café in Ryley, after immigrating in 1953. His store helped serve a need in a rural community and was many residents’ first taste of Chinese cuisine. In 1957, he opened a daily confectionary and grocery store in northeast Edmonton, which was a focal point for social connections as well as providing food and groceries. When he opened his Waikiki Chinese restaurant in 1967, it was one of the first large-scale Chinese restaurants in Edmonton, with a capacity of up to 300 people.

Inclusive Workplaces Award

Ling Huang

Ling is an innovator who has contributed to building solutions for autism care in Canada. He developed a technology that helps caregivers of autistic youth, which has benefited more than 10,000 youth with autism. He also developed the RoboCoach, which focuses on supporting the employment of adults on the autism spectrum. This technology has enabled more than 300 adults on the autism spectrum to gain employment.

Faith-Michael Uzoka

Faith-Michael is a professor at Mount Royal University, where he has contributed to the development of a culturally diverse and inclusive workplace for both employees and students. His contributions include supporting students and historically marginalized individuals, and advocating for the hiring of equity deserving groups. He has also engaged with the community on equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility priorities and actions, and enhanced equity, diversity and inclusion in the teaching and learning environment. In his role, he has also emphasized the importance of inclusivity in decision-making structures and promoted data-driven actions and decisions.

Newcomer Champion Award

Kazir Coulibaly

Kazir supports newcomers from Africa through educational workshops, building intercultural relationships, entrepreneurship and promoting African arts and culture in Alberta. He has organized events, including a fashion show to showcase multicultural communities, and a French spelling bee to promote the French language and create business networking opportunities.

Boban Stojanovic

Boban is the director of LGBTQ+ and Vulnerable Population Services at the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary. In this role, he has drawn on his experience as a refugee and previous work with the LGBTQ+ community in Eastern Europe, to identify gaps in services for clients of the Centre for Newcomers. The program he directs at the Centre for Newcomers is unique within Canada and provides vulnerable newcomers with supports, such as income and housing support, domestic violence support and refugee services. The program offers services in the client’s first language and partners with more than 150 local organizations.

Syed Hassan

Syed is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Love with Humanity Association, and his mission is to create love among people regardless of race, appearance, religious or cultural background. He and his team have built 24 libraries, 9 food banks, and a clothing bank, and accomplished numerous projects, including organizing seminars for immigrants and free tax-filing services for new immigrants and low-income individuals. They have also distributed food and Christmas hampers to those in financial need, and celebrated birthdays of houseless people by serving healthy food and offering winter gear. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they dropped off more than 3,000 food hampers at the doorsteps of those in isolation due to COVID-19. Food has been a very important part of Love with Humanity’s programs, which have included the distribution of fresh produce to new immigrants and low-income families, Coffee with Seniors program in different seniors' homes and birthday cake presentations to seniors.

In previous years, Syed has volunteered about 750 hours of his time. In 2020-2021, his volunteer hours increased to 1,050 hours to respond to increased community needs during the pandemic.

His aim is to create stronger communities and make Canada better place for everyone.

Senior Spirit Award

George Shouliang Dong

George is the founder and president of Voice of Huaxia, a one-hour Mandarin radio program. As a former freelance reporter, a major part of his work was to cover local immigrants’ community stories. He is also the co-author of a novel about Morris Cohen, General Two-Gun Ma Kun: Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s Jewish Body Guard. He has been dedicating his time to promoting multiculturalism in Alberta, and is an advocate of the Mandarin bilingual program in Calgary that helps Kindergarten to Grade 9 students develop their language and cultural skills to compete internationally.

Lucenia Ortiz

Lucenia is a co-chair of the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op and is a co-founder of the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition, where she has contributed to building community capacity of and civic engagement with ethno-cultural communities. Her work includes skill building workshops and supporting local intercultural initiatives. Through her advocacy and support of ethno-cultural communities, she has brought people’s stories, knowledge and lived experiences to light.

Small Community Enhancement Award

Lana Santana

Lana is the founder of the Fort Saskatchewan Multicultural Association. Her organization integrates newcomers into the community by organizing events, promoting programs and securing funding. Lana also organizes workshops and sessions for schools in Fort Saskatchewan to expose young people to other cultures and reduce instances of cultural bullying in schools.

Marjorie Villanis

Marjorie came to Pincher Creek as a temporary foreign worker to work in the hospitality industry. She is one of the first Filipinos to come to Pincher Creek and is known as the pioneer of the Filipino newcomers in the community. Marjorie is a hotel operations manager who has used her role to advocate for an environment of inclusion and diversity in Pincher Creek. She has encouraged residents to welcome new Albertans to the community. Through these efforts, she has contributed to workforce recruitment and retention in Pincher Creek.

Itua Iriogbe

Itua has contributed to occupational and disability medicine and to the community of Camrose. He established the first occupational injury service clinic in Camrose County. Itua has provided support and informational sessions for new doctors coming to Alberta and Canada in general over the years. He serves as the president of the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada, membership director of the Canadian Board of Occupational Medicine, and is a member of the Camrose environmental committee.

Student Inspiration Award

Rawaan Ibrahim

Rawaan has organized and led many activities at her school. She has been on student council since she was in Grade 6, including as vice president last year. To promote awareness and stand up against bullying, she helped with planning for anti-bullying week and Black History Month. She has won numerous science awards, including gold at the Edmonton Regional Science Fair and silver at the Youth Science Canada Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Noah Tumalad Elle

Noah has demonstrated a strong balance between his academic life and community involvement. As a junior high student, he has maintained academic excellence while also being involved in the school’s jazz band and various sports activities. As a member of the community, he has volunteered his time and effort in worthwhile pursuits such as regularly preparing sandwiches for the needy. He has also offered his services at the pancake breakfast hosted by the Knights of Columbus, visited the seniors’ home, and initiated a book drive for the Reading Hub in Albay, Philippines. To support the Kidney Foundation’s yearly fun run, he has run the 10 km race twice before turning 10 years old. He is an active member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

Women’s Newcomer Impact Award

Olga Krochak Sulkin

Olga has made contributions in both home care services and Holocaust remembrance. She developed a program model for home care services that has been recognized on an international level. She also created a storytelling project for Holocaust survivors called “Sharing our Memories.” This project ensured survivors’ journeys were commemorated, raised awareness among other ethno-cultural communities and explored the impact of trauma.

Aneela Azeem

Aneela is the founder of the Canadian Pakistani Support Group Association, which offers multiple programs for refugees and newcomers in Calgary. Her organization has served more than 3,000 vulnerable families with settlement, crisis and mental health support, as well as youth leadership programs and help for low-income families. As part of her association, Aneela launched Maskan, a shelter for immigrants, newcomer and refugee women, which has served more than 500 women and children fleeing violence.

Ejibola Adetokundo-Taiwo

Ejibola has empowered immigrant women and contributed to Alberta’s economic development through initiatives that help women become entrepreneurs. She developed the femImmiGRANT, which provides female immigrant entrepreneurs with $5,000 for business capital. She launched iiNTEGRATE NEXT, a program to help new immigrants integrate into the business world. She is also the creator of iLaunchHERproduct, a project which connects immigrant women entrepreneurs with big box stores with the sole aim of having their products on the retail shelves. Through these programs, Ejibola has helped coach and train more than 750 immigrant women youth and college students in starting and growing businesses.

Young Leader Award

Drishti Lakhani

Drishti contributes to the youth organization at Tehillah Youth Ministry School, developing youth leadership skills. She volunteers her time to assist new immigrants when they arrive, including helping with groceries, transportation and anything else they need. She is sensitive to people’s interpersonal needs, and seeks to build bridges and connections. Many students find safety and a sense of belonging under her leadership.

Fawaz Saleem

Fawaz has contributed to meaningful change in the Muslim student community through the establishment of the Muslim Student Advisory Committee and as the president of the Muslim Students' Affiliation of Mount Royal University. Through the Youth Leadership Academy of Canada, he nurtured communication and leadership skills and developed an empowered confidence and personal growth. He developed a 4-week youth leadership program, which encourages youth to think deeply about the ideas of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Fawaz also advocates for diversity by spreading awareness of the underrepresented population of men in nursing as the President of the Mount Royal University Men in Nursing club.