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Leading from the front

Mina Mawani brings experience gained over 15 years as a leader to her role as President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has received a whole slew of awards, and been recognized as one of Canada’s most influential and inspiring women leaders.

“I have continuously challenged myself in my career and in my personal life,” she says. “I can personally relate to the kinds of challenges faced by women and girls.”

Mawani was born in Uganda, from where her family had to flee in the 1970s when Ismailis faced severe discrimination and were expelled from the country. The family was first sent to a refugee camp in Austria and then came to Canada. They settled with their five young children in Thunder Bay.

“We faced discrimination, we experienced poverty and had to work hard to create a new foundation in Canada – similar to the issues newcomers face today,” says Mawani. “My parents had to work several jobs and made many sacrifices to ensure that their children would be successful.

“Coming to Canada was difficult for my parents because it is so different from Uganda – the weather, the food, the culture. However, Canada turned out to be a blessing for us. It is a beautiful country, filled with people of different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities. Most importantly, Canada respects diversity. Canada gives newcomers opportunities to succeed and prosper.”

Being Canadian means sharing common values to Mawani. “We all collectively care about collaborating, about giving back.”

She tells newcomers and women to go to school, build a foundation, go out and volunteer, participate. 

“It’s time for newcomers, for ethnic minorities to show what they can bring to boards of organizations. So many not-for-profits are looking for good people. Food banks, clothing drives, there are many places where one can make a difference. We have to create an awareness about what visible minorities and women can contribute.”

Posted: Aug 1, 2019

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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