Kaziwa Salih Dylan
Rhea Ashley Hoskin
Alana Robert
Minnie Y Teng

If you wish to be in contact with any of the winners please e-mail chair@soroptimistfoundation.ca.

Kaziwa Salih Dylan
Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies, at Queen’s University. MA, Humanities/ Genocide and Culture, York University, 2014. BA (Hons), Communication Studies, York University, 2012. Post-graduate Certificate in Migration and Forced Refugee Migration Issues, York University, 2009, graduate Certificate in Journalism, 2008, Sheridan College.

Kaziwa is a Ph.D. Candidate at Queen’s University where she is completing an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Cultural Studies. Her research combines cultural theory and genocide studies to reconnoitre the compound interconnection between the everyday culture of ordinary people and state policies, and to advance knowledge of power relations within the structure of human behaviour.

Kaziwa is committed to both academic and public spheres in her writing, volunteering, and activism. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her non-fiction work focuses primarily on women’s and children’s issues, genocide, fanatic Islamic terrorism, globalization, culture, social equality, and Kurdish issues. She has published 12 books and co-authored two. To challenge the negative conceptions of women’s intellectual ability and create awareness in Kurdish society, Kaziwa lunched her two magazines (Nvar and Nwekar) in Kurdish which are focused on feminism, Islamism, modernism, the Kurdish genocides, civil society, and cultural issues.

In 2010, Kaziwa established the Canada Anti-Genocide Project with a mission to create an umbrella organization for all Canadian communities victimized by genocide in order to project a collective voice against violence and genocide. In addition, the organization seeks to raise awareness of genocide and promotes social equality and global responsibility. With the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and especially since 2014, she has been tirelessly working on the gendered lens of genocide and women in war. She has been especially focused on the case of the enslavement of Yazidi women and their genocide by ISIS; she has taken their plight to international events and has conducted field studies. All these activities have been achieved with her own funds.

Kaziwa presents her work locally and nationally. To date, she has delivered presentation at international conferences in 12 countries. In addition to several scholarships, grants, and a fellowship, she has also received 14 (fourteen) international awards for her work. Most recently, Kaziwa received the 2017 David Edney Research Travel Award, which provides her with an opportunity to study and conduct research in Paris, France, for up to two months this summer.

Kaziwa has actively contributed to Canadian society through her volunteer work. This includes participation in the YMCA Megathon Challenge to raise funds to provide memberships for needy people seeking healthy lifestyles. She has also volunteered for immigration centres to help newcomers with resettlements services. Additionally, she has volunteered in several human rights organizations including acting as Vice President of the United Nations Association in Canada, Toronto Branch, and working with Amnesty International in Canada, Syria, and Egypt. In each position, she has prioritized people victimized by war and violence, disadvantaged groups, women, and youth.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned responsibilities, and the challenges immigrant women face, since moving to Canada in December 2002, Kaziwa became the legal guardian of her two younger brothers, who are now adults.

Rhea Ashley Hoskin
Doctoral candidate in Sociology, Queen’s University, 2018; MA in Gender Studies, Queen’s University, 2013; BAH in Women’s Studies and Sociology, Trent University, 2010.

Rhea Ashley Hoskin is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Queens University. Her work focuses on perceived femininity and its impact on the experiences of marginalization and oppression among sexual and gender minorities. Within this framework, Rhea applies feminist and femme theory to the study of femme identities, femmephobia, social prejudices, and the links between gender, gender expression, health, and fitness. Her doctoral research examines the role of femmephobia within intersecting experiences of marginalization among sexual and gender minority women.

Rhea has presented her research at conferences across North America, internationally and across disciplines. She is passionate about creating space for interdisciplinary collaborations and is currently working on research projects with researchers across Canada, in the US and the UK. Rhea’s work has been published in journals such as Psychology & Sexuality, Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice, Fat Studies: an Interdisciplinary Journal of Weight Studies, and Interalia: a Journal of Queer Studies. Her publication record shows a wide variety of methodological approaches, ranging from popular culture analyses and theoretical interjections, to the physiological measures of stress hormones in relation to prejudice and aggression.

Rhea has a long history of community involvement as a volunteer and as a leader. Many of Rhea’s volunteer experiences focus on marginalized populations, such as LGBTQ communities, women’s centres and HIV resource centres. Since her undergraduate years, Rhea has worked to promote femme inclusivity and visibility, facilitating and organizing numerous projects with this mission. More recently, Rhea co-organized queer community building projects to provide positive and inclusive space for Belleville and Kingston Ontario’s LGBTQ communities, with the mission of developing stronger bonds of allyship.

As an active member of the academic community, Rhea currently serves as the secretary for the Canadian Psychology Association’s section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues; is on the program committee for the Women's and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes; and is on the editorial board for Psychology & Sexuality.

Alana Robert
Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Juris Doctor, 2019. Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Manitoba, 2016. She founded Justice For Women, and is currently studying law and its intersection on women’s interests. She is working in The Hague this summer with the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.

Alana Robert is pursuing her Juris Doctor at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she recently completed her first year of studies. Alana received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Political Studies and Economics from the University of Manitoba, where she graduated with First Class Honours. She was awarded the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award throughout her undergraduate studies.

Alana founded Justice For Women – a student organization that serves to combat gender-based violence through education, advocacy and support. Through this group, Alana ignited transformational programing to foster a safe and inclusive environment for all students at the University of Manitoba. Alana led the development of Consent Culture Workshops, which are 90-minute facilitations that educate student leaders on how to always obtain consent, and ways to design student events that proactively mitigate the risk of sexual violence occurring. She also led the creation of a Safe Spaces and Safe Socials Policy, which mandates this training for student leaders across every student organization at the University of Manitoba. Alana designed a Self Care and Sexual Violence Resource Centre operated by Justice For Women volunteers, which is accessible to all students at the University of Manitoba. Alana has led fundraising campaigns that have generated over $21,000 for empowerment and development projects.

She has lead campaigns on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, including sharing circles and a Red Dress campaign in Winnipeg. Alana has spoken on women’s rights and gender-based violence at marches, conferences, and events across Manitoba.

Most recently, Alana has offered testimony to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on the Status of Women on her grassroots organizing with Justice For Women, and the work that can be done together to create safer communities for Indigenous women and women on post-secondary campuses. She is a Daughter of the Vote through Equal Voice, and does ongoing advocacy to increase women’s participation in government in Canada.

Within her first year at Osgoode Hall, she volunteered as a Family Law Caseworker with the Community Legal Aid Services Programme, and participated in Pro Bono Students Canada’s Family Law Rotation Project. She was a First Year Representative with the Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association, and won First Place Team at Osgoode Hall’s Leners Cup Moot.

Alana is spending the summer working for the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. She is conducting legal research on the right to counsel and witness protection rights within the context of international law.

Minnie Y Teng
MOT candidate, University of British Columbia, 2018. Minnie founded various community projects to advance the quality of life and mental health for women. As an aquatic therapy consultant and low vision rehabilitation advocate, Minnie strives to provide equitable services and systems for people with disabilities and/or injuries through her non-profit work and research.

Minnie is entering her second year of a Master's in Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia, and will be graduating in July of 2018. Minnie envisions an accessible future where no one is left out due to social, physical or institutional barriers. Minnie is dedicated to enabling those with disabilities or injuries to participate in activities that they want to do. Since 2010, she has spearheaded various community projects such as ‘Neater Nails’ program as well as the ‘Wise Webbie Workshops’. Neater Nails is a volunteer program providing nail hygiene services for elderly women with disabilities who have difficulty caring for their own nails. The program improved many elderly women's self-images and fostered numerous friendships among the seniors. Minnie also trained volunteers on how to recognize signs of depression, so that if the seniors they volunteered with exhibit the signs, they can pass this information onto healthcare professionals in the facility for early intervention.

‘Wise Webbie Workshops’ are technology sessions for seniors with disabilities so that they can learn about using tablets and connect with their friends or families. Many seniors with disabilities did not have the resources to purchase technology or have families around to teach them on using technology. Minnie liaised with four different Richmond community agencies to initiate a project aimed to educate seniors living in care facilities on technology so they can connect remotely with their families and friends. This project aims to not only increase digital literacy, bridge the inter-generational gap, but the main goal is to improve social connectedness to combat loneliness and mental health issues in seniors. Through different community initiatives, she hopes to address mental health issues in elderly women using a holistic approach.

Minnie is passionate about improving the quality of life for individuals with varying abilities, especially for elderly women, as more than half of the senior population are women. Realizing the many benefits and increased popularity of aquatic exercises, including improved physical fitness and mental health, she developed an innovative, first-of-its-kind aquatic program for people with visual impairments in Canada. This initiative attracted the interest of various other community groups who have approached her to develop programs tailored for other populations. To this end, Minnie founded ‘Aquafit for All Association’ to provide adapted aquatics for people with different abilities to improve quality of life, and enjoy aquatic rehabilitation at an affordable price.

Aside from aquatic and recreation rehabilitation, as a person with a visual disorder, Minnie is passionate about low vision rehabilitation. Minnie is part of the Occupational Therapy Low Vision Rehab Network in Canada, where she is developing a resource toolkit for occupational therapists so that they can better enable those with visual impairments. Upon completion of the Master of Occupational Therapy program, Minnie plans to stay in British Columbia to continue to advocate for equitable services and systems for elderly women who are battling with mental, physical health challenges.

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