2018 Award Recipients
Dina Said was a special individual who touched many lives both locally and internationally. Originally from Egypt, she came to Canada to continue her academic journey. While here, she touched many hearts. She believed that nobody in this world should be alone. She pushed for the empowerment of women and youth. She advocated for her faith and those of other faiths.
Dina showed all of us that all lives are equal, that everyone deserves love and a helping hand whether or not they are in need. Among her many accomplishments, she was proud to finish her PhD at the University of Calgary, to be involved in many support activities for the community around her, and to co-found the Own It Institute of Canada, a local non-profit organization with the motto "nobody should be alone". As a proud new citizen of Canada, she fought to represent what it meant to be a Canadian as someone who embraced Canadian culture while maintaining her own identity.
Dina recently left her new home to visit Egypt to see her family and friends. Life had a different plan for her and she ended up staying in Egypt, creating a career there. Unfortunately, Dina, alongside her best friend Maha, were in a fatal motor vehicle accident. All those who were touched by her kind soul were saddened by this news. She will always be remembered for her loving heart, something that will truly be irreplaceable. The Faith & Spirituality Centre has decided to award Dina the Pluralism Award of Excellence in the alumna category posthumously. Some of her dear friends and family accepted the award on her behalf.
Amy’s nominator has gotten to know Amy’s inspiring on- and off-campus, as a close friend, fellow club executive of Calgary Chinese Community Service Association (CCCSA), and Peer Helper for the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). Amy’s work in CCCSA and on-campus clubs has a positive impact on Chinese immigrants. This has been demonstrated by her involvement in programs that aimed to improve the well-being of the population, and ease their transition into their new environment.
Amy is currently president of CCCSA. She aimed to connect more students to the organization to enhance its capacity and create cultural unity. She worked as a Chinatown Walking Tour guide to promote Chinese culture within the community, and to those visiting Calgary. Through these efforts, she has promoted intercultural unity between the Chinese and the Canadian community. Her work with Pangaea: Connecting Humanity help to support and to create an environment for cross-cultural understanding within the immigrant and Syrian refugee communities. Through the creation of the Pangaea Mentorship program, she consistently inspires immigrant and refugee youth to pursue STEM by connecting them with student tutors and mentors who can guide and support them to achieve their goals and aspirations. Her inquisitive nature has allowed her to learn more about the religion of Islam but also about Syrian culture through her interactions with the families. She has also shared her Chinese and Canadian culture with them.
Through her position as the ELP leadership ambassador, Amy brings her passion for promoting interfaith and intercultural events to first-year students. As one of the planners for Leadership Exchange, she hoped to create a more pluralistic campus. There were speakers from different faiths and backgrounds to create a sense of diversity. Her engagement of first-year students has helped create a more pluralistic campus community.
2017 Award Recipients
Clare is currently a leadership ambassador with Leadership on Demand with the Leadership and Student Engagement office and a current BA (hons) student in Psychology with a co-op in Development Studies. She currently volunteers for the Women’s Studies and Feminist Club – whose mission is to promote and advocate for the UofC's Women's Studies program, and to foster a feminist community on and around the UofC campus and also volunteers for the Outrun the Stigma Club – whose goal is to reduce mental health stigma by hosting annual Outrun the Stigma event runs and hosting an online story sharing platform. She also volunteers on the Faculty of Arts Students’ Association and the Mental Health Awareness Club.
She is the recipient of the President’s Admission Scholarship and the Alyson Woloshyn Legacy of Leadership Award and is a member of the UofC’s Scholar’s Academy.
Clare’s nominator reached out to her when she was struggling with the US travel ban (she is a Muslim international graduate student here at the University of Calgary and was applying for graduate school in the US and she writes in her nomination, “I could not believe that with the stroke of a pen, my whole dream was crushed. I will never forget those feelings. The deep pain I was feeling was not only because I lost my dream, but it was also because most people voted in favour of policies promoting division and disunity.” One day, when Clare’s nominator was at the Leadership and Student Engagement office to report about her work to Clare who was the supervisor for the leadership peer helper program she was part of, Clare asked her how she was doing. She could feel that she was not asking that question as a typical greeting someone would exchange. She could see in her eyes that Clare was concerned for her and she genuinely wanted to know how she was doing. Suddenly, she broke down. She told her “you know Clare, honestly I am not doing well”. She trusted Clare because of the genuine care and kindness she saw in her. She shared very painful feelings, feelings that she had been holding for so long. Sharing her most vulnerable moments with her brought them much closer. She helped her to get the support she needed. Clare’s compassion and care towards hermade her feel included and loved. She brought light into her life when she most needed it.
Her nominator said she nominated her because she advocates for everyone from every faith and background. When most of us are busy with school and other commitments, she reaches out to communities and minorities that have been targeted by hate crimes and ignorance and lends her support. Some of these incidents are not even covered by the mainstream media but she does not miss any of them. It warms her heart when she sees a woman who is not even Muslim, take the time out of her busy schedule [to do that].
Clare’s supporting letters also shared the delight, passion, and advocacy Clare takes in supporting people no matter who they are.
To sum up, Clare’s nominator says this of her. Thank you Clare
- for helping me to be proud of who I am
- for bringing light into my life when I most needed it
- for making me feel loved, welcomed, and included.
Dr. Harjot Singh is an internationally renowned guest lecturer, teacher, and musician at schools, conferences, camps and interfaith gatherings. She has played a major role in promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue and understanding for years. In 1991 she was a guest lecturer for the Calgary Public Board of Education Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day. Since 2008 she has been a board member of Sikhnet, a non-for-profit cooperation that aims to create a virtual community for Sikhs to connect and for others to learn about Sikhi. She was awarded the Mai Bhago Spirit of Bhaisakhi Award by Sikh Dharma International in 2008 and participated as a panelist at the World Parliament of Religions, Sikh Women in Kirtan, at Salt Lake City in 2015. With her efforts, the Sikh Representative position was created at the University of Calgary’s Faith and Spirituality Centre in 2015. She is also the Sikh Representative for the Calgary Interfaith Council beginning in 2017 and continues to engage in interfaith dialogue to increase understanding amongst people.
Additionally, from September 2013 to June 2014 Dr. Harjot held the role of the Inaugural Lil Faider Interfaith Scholar in Residence at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Calgary. She demonstrated that one can unite communities together by sharing Sikh beliefs and practices with the Jewish community. Since 2000 she has been a member of Women in Spirituality, Calgary. Her presence on numerous interfaith panels at the University of Calgary has created awareness and unity amongst the experiences of religious individuals working and living in the Calgary community. Dr. Harjot's work as a medical doctor touches lives everyday. Her grace and compassion in her practice allows her patients to connect with her immediately. She has told her nominator stories about her patients sharing how they feel calm simply by being in her presence. She is a great asset to the medical community as she has been the Chair for the Spiritual Care Advisory Committee, with Alberta Health Services, since 2007, providing interfaith advice for patients in hospitals. Her nominators described how her work, vision and passion have been an inspiration to all of them and can’t help but look up to her leadership and grace as an example of how to live and do pluralism.
2013 Award Recipients
The winners for our 2013 Interfaith Awards of Excellence were:
Shams Amiry - Undergraduate student category
Salma Mohiuddin - Graduate student category
Ola Mohajer - Alumnus/a category