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Civic Impact

CivicAction celebrates emerging and established leaders at MetroNext

On February 23, CivicAction presented two awards celebrating leaders, both established and emerging, in the GTA and Hamilton area.

CivicAction recognized Ratna Omidvar with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Civic Leadership for her work on inclusion and diversity in the area. Omidvar is the Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University, where she oversees both DiverseCity onBoard and Hire Immigrants. Omidvar says, “I see this award as more wind in my sails for onBoard,” which connects new Canadians and visible minorities with mentors and volunteer boards positions.  “I take this award as a vote of confidence to keep walking on the path that I’ve carved out, and I take it as an exhortation to keep going,” says Omivdar, who says she was “gobsmacked” when she found out she would receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Omidvar, who came to Canada from India in 1981, has been previously awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. She says she’s always been attracted to connecting lived experience to policy, and that as the world’s most diverse city, Toronto needs immigrants to help it prosper. “Our narrative is that people are attracted to our city from all over the world, and they live and stay here, and they work and go to school here. If you assume that systems and attitudes will just fall into place, you can wait for a very long time. Institutions are hard to adjust, and attitudes take a long time to shift.”  

CivicAction also celebrated Salima Rawji with MetroNext’s Emerging Leader Award. Rawji was a former co-chair of CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network, and a graduate of their DiverseCity Fellow program. She now works as Director of Development at Build Toronto, where her interest in community development and her knowledge of real estate combine to create livable, transit-friendly, commercially vital neighbourhoods. Build Toronto is responsible for local projects such as Islington Terrace, which will transform a 3.3 acre commuter lot into a vibrant home for 1,200 households.
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