Powered by a passionate and committed national network, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) delivers programs and special projects that inspire inclusion, create opportunities to connect, and encourage active citizenship.
The ICC is a national charity co-founded by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul.
“Our vision at the ICC keeps in mind that by 2030, Canada’s net population growth will be entirely attributable to immigration. By creating opportunities for new Canadian citizens to participate fully in our cultural and political life, we will be able to continue to nurture the kind of society we have worked so hard to create: public education, cultural activities, parks, and medical care.”
— The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Co-founder, ICC
“We all know that the world is caught in a maelstrom, which is swirling around the basic principles of belonging and diversity, around the very meaning of citizenship. The role of the ICC – our ideas and programs – whether in individual communities or across borders, has never been so important.”
— John Ralston Saul, Co-founder, ICC
“At the ICC, we practice everyday citizenship. Our programs engage and connect citizens with our shared culture and each other, and our research thinks out loud about how best to be a citizen of Canada and the world.”
— Charlie Foran, CEO, ICC
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s 26th Governor General from 1999-2005, is universally acknowledged to have transformed the office during her six years at Rideau Hall and to have left an indelible mark on Canada’s history. She is the bestselling author of the 2014 CBC Massey Lectures Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, Heart Matters: A Memoir, Room for All of Us: Surprising Stories of Loss and Transformation, and a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune. She has made the astonishing journey from a penniless child refugee to an accomplished broadcaster and distinguished public servant in a multi-faceted lifetime and has received numerous prestigious awards and honorary degrees in Canada and abroad.
In 2005, Madame Clarkson co-founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship to help new citizens in Canada integrate into Canadian life. In 2006, she established the Clarkson Cup, the championship trophy for Women’s Hockey. Since 2007, she has been the Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. A Privy Councillor and Companion of the Order of Canada, she lives in Toronto.
Essayist and novelist, John Ralston Saul proposes a new humanism through what he calls responsible individualism. His 14 works have been translated into 29 languages in 38 countries. Saul’s philosophical trilogy and its conclusion — Voltaire’s Bastards, The Doubter’s Companion, The Unconscious Civilization and On Equilibrium: Six Qualities of the New Humanism — has impacted political thought in many countries.
In A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, he argues that modern Canada is profoundly shaped by Aboriginal ideas. He is general editor of the Extraordinary Canadians biographical series and contributed his own biography of Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine & Robert Baldwin. In 2012, he published his first novel in 15 years, Dark Diversions: A Traveller’s Tale. The Comeback, his latest release, explores how Indigenous peoples are empowering themselves for a grand return to a position of power and influence.
Saul is President Emeritus of PEN International, and Founder and Honourary Chair of French for the Future. Saul is a Companion in the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. His many literary awards include Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal, the Governor General’s Award and the inaugural Gutenberg Galaxy Award.
Upkar Arora is the Managing Director & Co-Founder of Illumina Partners, an independent boutique advisory firm specializing in providing operational, financial and strategic expertise to help organizations successfully navigate transformational events. He is also the Co-CEO of HomeOptima.
For almost 30 years, Upkar has worked extensively with public and private companies in Canada, the US and Europe on operations, capital markets transactions, acquisitions, dispositions, turnarounds and financings as senior executive, advisor and/or principal. Prior to forming Illumina in 2002, he was Executive VP and shareholder of Reliance Aerotech. In 1999, he helped establish Oncap Investment Partners, a $400 million private equity fund sponsored by Onex Corporation. From 1995-1999, Upkar held senior financial and operational roles with TrizecHahn Corporation in Canada, the United States, and England. From 1988-1995, he held various finance related roles at Olympia & York Developments and Reichmann International.
Upkar is a committed community service leader. He has served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection for the past four years, and Chair of the Canadian Arts Summit in 2014. Upkar serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance, and teaches at the University. He has previously volunteered at Big Brothers of Peel, Fort York Food Bank and Children’s Aid Society.
Upkar is a CPA, CA and holds an ICD.D designation. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Waterloo in 1985.
Winston is currently the Special Projects Advisor to the Office of the CEO at the Royal Bank of Canada. He was formerly the Head of Strategic Performance Management, Canadian Banking at RBC where he worked in progressive senior leadership roles including Branch Manager, Private Banking, Commercial Banking as well as several strategic roles within RBC’s National Office.
In 2009, Winston was recognized as a member of the Order of Canada for his extensive 30 plus years of volunteer services in community involvement, economic development and advocacy for groups and individuals (including lobbying the Canadian Government in the early 1980’s to support the release of Nelson Mandela). During this time, he played an instrumental role in establishing several faith-based community centres that provide outreach services for newcomers to Canada.
In 2010, he was appointed as the Chair of the Board of Directors of IDRF (the International Development Relief Foundation), a Canadian organization that’s been performing relief and development work in several African, Asian and central European countries for more than 25 years. Winston also volunteers as a Presiding Officer at Canadian citizenship ceremonies, and in June 2012, he was recognized with The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Winston holds an MBA from Athabasca University and is a Certified Director as a graduate from the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Martin Katz is Founder and President of Prospero Pictures. One of the most prolific feature film producers in Canada, Katz’s credits include Hotel Rwanda, which was nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, and Bronwen Hughes’ Stander, which the London Observer called “the greatest heist film since Reservoir Dogs.”
Maps to the Stars starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson, represents Katz’s fourth collaboration with celebrated director David Cronenberg, following A Dangerous Method, starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche, and Spider, starring Ralph Fiennes.
Katz’s most recent television project Spectacle: Elvis Costello With… is an Award-winning series co-produced with Rocket Pictures. It features some of the most renowned musicians in the world in conversation and performance with Costello, including Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Elton John, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed and Sting, among others.
Katz holds degrees in law from the University of Toronto and the Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), and has served as Professor of Law at the French-language Université de Moncton and as Special Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Toronto. Katz is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, a Director of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and Chair of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
Lesley Kim is the Executive Director of the Kim Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for Canadians and beyond through a variety of local and international initiatives. Her hands-on approach to fundraising has amassed over $650,000 in charitable donations since the foundation’s inception in December 2013. She continues to support communities with a focus on healthcare, education, immigration services and cultural organizations.
She has held a variety of small and large scale events to bring awareness to complex social matters and in 2014 was selected to host a private fundraising event for His Holiness the Dalai Llama during his visit to Vancouver. Lesley’s passion drives her to oversee every step of the process from beneficiary selection, event planning, public relations and marketing. Her work for Seva Canada led her to Cambodia to witness first hand, how the funds were appropriated at Angkor’s Hospital for Children.
In 2015, Kim helped launch Me Too, a six part speaker series in support of Vancouver General Hospital’s Mental Health initiative. She is also an active public speaker, with past engagements at VGH and UBC Foundation galas, TED, Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad, Raw Beauty Talks and Lululemon.
Kim holds a BA in Social Sciences from York University and a Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
Ruth Ramsden-Wood is actively engaged in the Calgary community. Formerly a teacher and Principal in the Calgary Board of Education, Ruth recently completed 14 years as President and CEO of United Way of Calgary, where she oversaw the organization’s mandate to raise $54M annually and build community solutions to some of the most intractable social issues. She is also the Past President of the Calgary Chapter of the International Women’s Forum.
She is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, the Calgary Greenway Patrons Council and of the Alberta Champion Society.
Ruth has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Calgary, the Strategic Leadership Forum’s President of the Year, and Consumers’ Choice Business Woman of the Year. A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for volunteer service and the Alberta Centennial Medal, Ruth has dedicated her life to creating conditions for people to reach their full potential and to creating lasting change. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University.
Irfhan Rawji is a Principal with Totem Capital Corporation, an Alberta-based private investment firm. Through Totem, Irfhan currently serves as Board Chair for two of its investee companies: Carrot Insights, the provider of Canada’s national wellness rewards app, and The Organic Box, Alberta’s largest organic food hub, offering home delivery as well as click and collect grocery services.
Prior to founding Totem, Irfhan spent more than a decade as private equity professional, strategic consultant and public company senior executive. He also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Sauder School of Business at UBC. Irfhan is currently a Governor of the Glenbow Museum, a Director of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a Director and Treasurer of imagiNation150, and Director with the Harvard Business School Global Alumni board. He previously served as Chair of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, a Director and Treasurer of the Harbourfront Centre, and a Director of Business for the Arts. Irfhan has a BCom (Honours) from the University of British Columbia, where he was designated a Wesbrook Scholar, and an MBA (High Honours) from Harvard University where he was designated a Baker Scholar and was a McArthur Fellow.
Mr. Khalil Shariff joined Aga Khan Foundation Canada as Chief Executive Officer in August 2005. He was previously with the Toronto office of McKinsey & Company, an international management consultancy, where he advised governments, financial institutions, and health care providers on strategy, organization, and operational improvement.
Khalil served on AKFC’s National Committee for five years, and has cultivated his interest in international development and conflict resolution issues through a variety of activities including as: Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Negotiation Law Review; Policy Co-ordinator and Research Associate, Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research; Legal Intern, Chambers of the Vice-President, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania; Intern, Office of Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He was the youngest member ever elected as a School Trustee in 1993 for the Board of School Trustees in Richmond, B.C.
Khalil holds a B.A. in International Relations and Economics from the University of British Columbia and a J.D. magna cum laude from the Harvard Law School.
Known as one of Canada’s leading serial social entrepreneurs, Andreas was the original founder of Green Rewards, the world’s first mass eco-points initiative, which was eventually fused with Canada’s largest loyalty program, and spawned innovative partnerships with government to reward Canadians for healthy and responsible lifestyle choices. He subsequently launched Social Change Rewards, a global wellness promotion venture that partners with national governments to inspire and reward positive behaviour changes on a mass scale.
Andreas has been recognized globally for his entrepreneurial and social change achievements. His recent bestselling memoir, Misfit: Changemaker with an Edge, has proven uniquely popular among younger audiences and is also spawning the creation of a biopic film. He is a prolific public speaker, writer and advisor to a number NGOs and University business schools. He serves on the Canadian Executive Board of the Young & World Presidents’ Organization, on the Executive Board of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and on the National Board of the Immigrant Access Fund.
A past president of PEN Canada, Charlie is a senior fellow at Massey College, and an adjunct professor in the Dept. of English at the University of Toronto. Charlie has degrees from the University of Toronto and the University College, Dublin, and has taught in China, Hong Kong, and Canada. He has also published eleven books, including five novels. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada.
He lives in Toronto with his family.
As Managing Director, Programs and Partnerships, Leith drives program strategy and operations, with special attention to the Cultural Access Pass, Building Citizenship and ICC Insights programs. She also leads the cultivation of new program partnerships and directs the ICC’s program initiatives.
Prior to joining the ICC, Leith worked in public radio and social marketing. As an Executive Producer at National Public Radio, Leith was responsible for the strategic direction and editorial content of two national newsmagazines, and co-produced NPR’s first Presidential debate during the 2004 election campaign. Leith began her journalism career at CBC Radio, and was the Senior Producer for the flagship interview program As It Happens. She has contributed lifestyle pieces to the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and the Canadian Press. After leaving journalism, Leith was an Account Director and Manager of Special Projects for Manifest Communications, an agency focused on cause and issue marketing. In that capacity, she specialized in delivering impact campaigns on social issues including food security, health, learning disabilities, and foster care.
Leith has a B.A. from Dalhousie University in Halifax and has lived in Montreal, Toronto, Washington and Los Angeles. As much as possible, she and her husband use their free time to travel.
Kimberley brings a decade of experience in strategic development and fundraising to her role as Head of Development at the ICC.
Prior to joining the ICC, Kimberley was in charge of fundraising, communications and special events at The Safehaven Project for Community Living, a Toronto- based charity that provides residential care for children with multiple disabilities, and chronic and terminal illnesses. Kimberley also worked at Princess Margaret Home Lottery in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation for 6 years, and has directed art galas in support of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She also sits on the National Board of Directors for Brands for Canada and the Community Board of Directors for Creating Alternatives and is a member of MLSE Foundation Campaign Cabinet in support of the MLSE LaunchPad.
Kimberley holds an undergraduate degree in Classical History from York University.
Julie collaborates with the ICC team to advance the organization’s strategic goals. Responsible for the execution of strategic communications, campaigns and projects, she also oversees the ICC’s social media strategy and media relations.
Julie began her marketing career at the University of Calgary. In 2010, she was a roundtable host at an ICC community citizenship ceremony as part of Calgary’s Cultural Capital of Canada; the experience moved her to join an ICC Building Citizenship Volunteer Committee. In 2015, she relocated to Toronto to take on the role of Communications Manager at the ICC. Julie is passionate about art, technology and design, and enjoys the collaborative spirit and diversity of projects at the ICC. She holds an undergraduate degree in communications from UCalgary, and an honours broadcast diploma from NAIT.
She is a minimalist.
David is a versatile accountant and administrator with experience working in a number of industries. An analytical thinker with excellent problem-solving skills, David manages organizational finances for the ICC.
Prior to joining the ICC, David worked as a Corporate Accountant at Arrow Capital Management Inc., a Program Rights Accountant at Shaw Media, and an Accounting Assistant at Ketchum Public Relations.
David studied business administration at Trent University – a small business school that emphasizes ethical business practices and environmental sustainability – where he was an honours student and a student representative to the Business Program Committee.
David is an avid fan of the Blue Jays.
Aisha brings to the ICC several years of experience as an educator and facilitator. Her goal as a teacher is to promote knowledge accessibility as pathway to empowerment. At the ICC, Aisha uses just that same philosophy (and a good dose of practicality) to manage the ICC’s daily administration.
Aisha studied Cognitive Science at McGill University. Her interest in critical thinking and knowledge sharing then led her to obtain her B.Ed (Intermediate/Senior) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto, where she focused on interdisciplinary and holistic education.
Aisha is an avid cook and foodie, and would always prefer to walk.
As Acting Director of the ICC’s Building Citizenship program, Alykhan oversees the strategic planning and operational management of over 70 community citizenship ceremonies every year with his team.
Prior to joining the ICC, Alykhan worked as a business consultant for TD Bank, where he led and consulted on insurance claims process and application-related projects. His personal experience growing up in an immigrant family from Tanzania shaped his investment in inclusion and active citizenship for all Canadians, while his time spent volunteering for various causes motivated him to make the transition from the corporate sector to the non-profit world. When he is not traveling around Canada and attending community citizenship ceremonies, Alykhan enjoys the agony of watching Toronto sports teams, music, museums, and spending time with friends.
Alykhan was born in London, England and grew up in Guelph, Brampton, and Toronto. He holds degrees in Business from York University and the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
As Manager of Volunteers, Nosheen oversees 25 volunteer committees and over 200 volunteers across the country.
Nosheen’s passion for fostering community has led her to work with many non-profit and settlement agencies throughout her career. She spent more than 20 years as an Adult ESL (English as a Second Language) Instructor with the Toronto District School Board. Previous to this role, she worked as Education Coordinator with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, supporting programming for doctors in residency and five national volunteer committees. Nosheen has also worked as the Manager of Training with Dixon Hall’s Regent Park Learning Centre where she developed the Telus Train-the-trainer program for residents of Regent Park.
Nosheen holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Humber College, a B.A. in Sociology and Linguistics with a specialization in Language Acquisition from York University as well as a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from ICLS.
As Manager of Partners for the Building Citizenship program, Salima works closely with community partners across the country to plan and implement community citizenship ceremonies and the ICC’s signature roundtables.
Salima’s professional background in education and international development has allowed her to live and work in Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the United Kingdom. More recently, in Canada, prior to working at the ICC, Salima managed education and youth livelihoods projects with War Child Canada. Wanting to transition her work to a local context, Salima then spent one year with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, where she developed and implemented a national online resource for Aboriginal entrepreneurs.
In her spare time, Salima likes to box at a women’s boxing gym in Toronto, and seek out new and unusual ice cream joints wherever she goes.
As part of our Building Citizenship team, Siva helps coordinate ICC community citizenship ceremonies, including our signature roundtables and celebratory receptions.
Prior to joining the ICC, Siva worked with CultureLink Canada, Cycle Toronto, CivicAction, and the City of Toronto on a variety of city-building, newcomer integration, and youth engagement projects. She is a frequent speaker, panellist, and writer on urban issues, and is especially interested in celebrating underrepresented voices and viewpoints. As a former refugee from Sri Lanka, Siva is excited to join the ICC in welcoming Canada’s newest citizens, promoting inclusion, and encouraging active citizenship across the country. Siva holds an interdisciplinary degree in Arts & Science from McMaster University. In her spare time, she likes biking, hiking, and listening to podcasts.
As Coordinator of the Ahlan Canada program, Stephanie is able to provide a chance for some of Canada’s most vulnerable populations to learn more about their new home through tours of cultural attractions.
Stephanie has been developing special events and cultural programming since graduating from the University of Toronto’s Arts Management Program in 2014. Beginning her professional career in the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture department, Stephanie came to believe in the power of events to bring people together through her work on projects such as Doors Open Toronto and Nuit Blanche TO. She now finds great purpose in creating shared experiences for the public and encouraging cross-cultural exchanges through events.
As the Manager of the Cultural Access Pass (CAP) program, Yasmine works with our national network of partners to create opportunities for new citizens to explore, travel and discover Canada during their first year of citizenship.
Yasmine’s passion for inclusion and citizenship stems from her academic research in human geography and environmental studies. While completing her master’s at York University, Yasmine studied the links between social policy, environmental factors and marginalization of newcomer communities in Toronto. She became determined to take an active role in helping to foster more inclusive societies. Now, at the ICC, Yasmine is committed to building a sense of inclusion and belonging by encouraging new citizens to explore and engage in arts and cultural institutions from coast to coast.
Born and raised in Toronto, Yasmine is motivated by storytelling and finds inspiration in shared experiences and exploring Canadian natural landscapes. She also enjoys her daily adventures on her bike.
Andrew Beer works with data. He began his career in a service bureau at Ontario’s Legislative Assembly before moving to the office of the Privacy Commissioner for Ontario; he is now the guardian of Cultural Access Pass demographics and trends. In addition to being the steward of ICC’s information needs, Andrew also wears a second hat as the primary support contact in both English and French for hundreds of thousands of CAP members taking part in the Cultural Access Pass program. Andrew’s expertise in data management and customer service has been instrumental to the growth of the CAP program since 2011.
Andrew is also a flatwater canoeist and Anglophile.
As the Marketing Coordinator for the Cultural Access Pass program, Natasha develops and executes all email-marketing for CAP members. She is also responsible for outreach to new attractions and all CAP social media.
Natasha began her journey into the non-profit sector when she moved to Kenya and Tanzania to work as a program coordinator for the East African Commission. After half a year of work and travel in East Africa, she returned home to Canada and joined the ICC’s Cultural Access Pass team. Natasha’s love for marketing and communications came from her bachelor’s degree in Business and Communications at the University of Waterloo, and a life-changing exchange semester at the National University of Singapore.
When she’s not at work, Natasha spends her time volunteering, trying new cuisines and planning her next global adventure.
As Director, ICC Insights, Heather Steel generates research on belonging and inclusion in Canada through online surveys and focus groups with Canada’s newest citizens.
Heather’s interest in citizenship and immigration was sparked by her own family’s history of migration and further developed while pursuing graduate degrees in history from the University of New Brunswick (MA) and York University (PhD candidate). She began her career at the ICC as Acting National Program Manager for the Building Citizenship program before moving on to a Communications Analyst role with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. She returned to the ICC in 2012 to build ICC Insights, and feels fortunate that she is able to use her academic training and knowledge in an organization that proposes practical policy and program solutions. Born and raised in Southern Alberta, Heather is an avid cook, cyclist, hiker and cross country skier.
As the Director of 6 Degrees, the ICC’s global forum on inclusion and citizenship, Alain spearheads the conceptualization, development and execution of this annual gathering.
A global citizen from Mexico, Alain is a high-performing events and public affairs specialist with a deep international and Canadian network of contacts in government, business and civil society. Alain brings to the ICC considerable expertise from various experiences in Canada and around the world, including his most recent role as Director of Program & Content at the International Economic Forum of the Americas. Prior to that, he served as the Aide to John Ralston Saul, one of Canada’s leading intellectuals and, at the time, President of PEN International.
Bilingual in English and Spanish, Alain holds a master’s in Political Science from the University of Salamanca in Spain and a bachelor’s degree (Double Honours) in Political Science and History from Trent University.
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