2017 Spirit Award Recipients, Strength Through Diversity

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Recipient Strength Through Diversity: Avesta Alani, University of Ottawa

Avesta is a legally-blind female of colour. She is a Dean’s List student who has recently completed her Honours Degree in International Development and Globalization with a minor in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, and will attend Osgoode Hall Law School in the fall. Avesta believes that her drive and persistence help her to overcome her disadvantages and disabilities, and the underestimation and stigmatization she experiences only helps to motivate her.

Avesta volunteers with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) both locally and nationally. At the local level, she talks with youth about empowerment, education, and independence as a Youth Ambassador. As a CNIB Co-Chair at the National Youth Council she manages and facilitates meetings and discussions championing youth issues. Avesta is also a facilitator with the National Education Association of Disabled Students where she holds workshops on gaining employment for persons with disabilities. For the past seven years, Avesta has also volunteered with the Catholic Centre for Immigrants where she advocates for the inclusion of all communities.

Quote: “My vision loss has made me more determined than most.  My obstacles are my strengths.”


Recipient Strength Through Diversity: Jamie Hall, Nepean High School

Jamie has been instrumental in educating both staff and students at Nepean High School about LGBTQ+ issues. As the lead for her Gender and Sexuality Alliance she has run numerous workshops and organized several fundraisers. She is passionate about creating safe spaces for LGTBQ+ students and educating the student body about different identities. Via a presentation for Grade 9 Health classes, she educated students about different sexual orientations and gender expressions. Jamie organized and participated in a Human Library, where staff were given the opportunity to listen to stories from diverse groups. Groups included The Muslim Association, students struggling with anxiety and depression, the experiences of an Inuit student, high performance athletes and students of colour. Jamie spoke as the voice of a genderfluid student, explaining what that means and her experiences in the school. Jamie is also a key member of our Sources of Strength program which works to educate and empower students about mental health and suicide prevention. She most recently created a handout of community resources which can be found all around the school. Jamie oozes kindness and compassion and is an essential participant in so many events that are run at Nepean!

Quote: “Failure followed by continuation is what proves your dedication and love for something.”