Maryam and Nivaal Rehman
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman are teens who have been activists since grade three. They have worked in the local and global community for causes such as girl’s education in Pakistan, along with running the Students Together Against Racism, Model United Nations, Youth in Action and Environmental Clubs in their high school. Their leadership experience included various conferences they organized, including The International Women’s Day conference through Girl UP club (an UN initiative) that they launched at school.
They started their own YouTube channel called “The World with MNR” to inspire others to change the world. Through their channel, they cover many events including the 2-day Social Good Summit by Mashable and the United Nations in New York City, WE Day Toronto and events with the Blue Dot movement.
Their activism has led to receiving the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (now the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers) along with the Being Me Rising Muslimah Award and the Canada 150 Youth Champion Award by MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes. They have been featured by the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, Whitby This Week and the Durham Chronicle newspapers because of their efforts to make a difference.
Leah Denbok is a 17-year-old grade 12 student at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. For the past four years the Leah has been mentored by the National Geographic photographer and Fellow Joel Sartore. When Leah was only 14-years-old, Joel said of Leah, "If she sticks with it I think she is well on her way to becoming not just a good photographer but a great photographer. And I'm not kidding." This past August Leah was invited to exhibit her photography at Christ Church Cathedral during the Supercrawl event in Hamilton. Afterwards, the internationally known street photography, Alex Zafer, posted a comment on Facebook in which he said of Leah, "This is a young woman with an obviously high EQ, mega talent, and a terrific eye for humanizing homeless people on the streets who are so often looked upon, or looked-over as subhuman." After graduating from high school Leah intends to study photojournalism at university.
On November 13 Leah’s first book Nowhere to Call Home—Photographs and Stories of the Homeless Volume One was published. All of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the Barrie Bayside Mission Centre. Volume Two of this book is already at the publishers and is due out in June. Her two goals in publishing these books are, first, to humanize the homeless, and, second, to shine a spotlight on the problem of homelessness.
This past July CBC's 'The National' aired a documentary about Leah. Since then her career has taken off. In August, at the insistence of Prime Minister Trudeau, the government agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, made a short video Leah photographing the homeless. This video was recently shown at the Poverty Reduction Conference which was attended by leading government officials, including Prime Minister Trudeau. In September Leah was invited, along with dignitaries such as Prince Harry and the president of the UN, to address 40,000 people at the Air Canada for the WE Day and WE Family events. In November, 2017 Leah was invited to attend the ARTWALK NY gala as the special guest of David Giffen, the Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless and the organizer of the event. Recently Leah was also asked to exhibit her photography and speak at the Women of the World 2018 festival in Australia, which will be taking place in April.
Leah’s work has received a lot of media coverage. Among the media outlets that have interviewed her are: the BBC, CBC’s ‘The National’, CBC’s The Goods, CTV, The Toronto Star, Global News, City TV, the Corriere della Sera (the main daily paper in Italy), Toronto Life, and Chatelaine.
John Cassells is a Human Trafficking Specialist with SIM Canada. He works closely with some of the country’s leading advocates and was called to Ottawa in 2014 to advise the federal government on Bill C-36 prostitution legislation. The Ontario government also consulted John on their 2016 provincial strategy to address human trafficking. In 2015 he founded the program, Men Ending Trafficking, followed by Parents Hope, in 2016, for families impacted by human trafficking. After three decades on the frontlines John continues to work directly with trafficked young people throughout the GTA.