People

Advisory Committee

  • Mathura K

    Mathura has a background in public policy.  She has worked in policy and programming in education, non-profits, and government.  Mathura has an interest in gender-based issues and feminism.  Her career goal is to increase the effectiveness of programming and policies for women’s empowerment.

  • Ranjith Kulatilake

    Community Health Worker (LGBTQ+ Newcomer Initiatives)
    Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services

    Ranjith Kulatilake has been a PSI Advisory Committee Member since May 2010. He works as the Community Health Worker (LGBTQ+ Initiatives) at Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, in Toronto, Ontario. Ranjith also volunteers as the Equity Coordinator of the Rainbow Health Network, Toronto.

Champions

  • Nona Abdallah

    Nona Abdallah is an Arab, Muslim, transgender woman, and a Queer and Trans rights activist. She was born in Canada after her parents arrived in the 1990s as refugees escaping the Lebanese Civil War. She studied Mathematics at the University of Windsor, and is currently studying Child and Youth Care at St. Clair College in Windsor. After a long struggle facing the backlash of publicly coming out, her focus as an activist and organizer is on others facing the same problems of balancing queer and racialized identities, and the material struggles they face in poverty, public housing, and abusive situations. She volunteers supporting refugees and immigrants and founded a peer support group in Windsor called ‘NAFS.' This group is intended for people who are from the Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim communities in Windsor who also identify as queer and trans. In the past, she has given presentations on the struggles with faith and sexuality, and about the intersectionality of being an Arab who identifies as transgender. She also has been an activist for many years supporting Palestinian human rights, and is currently involved in urban and community farming.

  • Semakula Abdumajidhu

    Majid has over 3 years of experience in web development and machine learning research. He has achieved a Bachelor of Information Technology and is a certified .NET developer at Humber College. Semakula has a solid foundation in machine learning classification algorithms and artificial neural networks. He has worked with LGBTQ+ organizations in Uganda, primarily as a developer, as well as events coordination for 3+ years. He has presented several Machine Learning and Deep Learning scientific research papers at top tech conferences including NeurIPS. He currently lives in Toronto.

  • Shawn Ahmed

    Shawn’s non-profit career began in Bangladesh over ten years ago. At a time when international charities almost always portrayed Black and Brown aid beneficiaries as objects of pity (perpetuating the white saviour narrative), Shawn leveraged social media to let communities speak for themselves. His efforts helped to raise millions of dollars for community-led projects. Over the past decade, Shawn has worked with organizations such as Save the Children, YMCA, and the Red Cross. His work has been recognized and honoured by organizations such as The World Economic Forum and The Webby Awards. As a queer Muslim with non-visible disabilities, Shawn is a strong advocate for leveraging technology to make non-profits more accessible. This includes encouraging non-profits to use proper closed captioning in videos, alt-text/descriptive text in images, use of inclusive and gender-neutral language in automated forms and text scripts, and accessible web and graphic design.

  • Taibat Akindele

    I am a Muslim who was born in Nigeria and belongs to the Yoruba tribe. I have an educational background In Chemistry science and have worked in the telecommunications industry for almost a decade. I moved to Canada a few years ago and changed careers to work in social services. I have a social service worker diploma and am in my last year of a bachelor's degree programme. I got into social work because I wanted to help people who were marginalized and discriminated against. I've worked in shelters, community centres, and group homes with LGBTQ2+ new immigrants and people with developmental impairments. I wish to work as a settlement services provider for immigrants and refugees who are new to Canada. At York University, I volunteer as a peer mentor in my faculty.

  • Georgelie Berry

    Georgelie Berry est gestionnaire, originaire d'Haïti. Étudiante au programme relais en Leadership et Management au Collège Boréal de Windsor et Championne bénévole à l’initiative des espaces positifs de l’OCASI. Elle possède d’excellentes compétences en marketing et ventes. Elle est reconnue pour son sens de créativité, leadership, et son engagement à lutter contre le harcèlement et la discrimination fondés sur les caractéristiques personnelles en particulier sur l’identité et l’expression de genre. Elle s’est toujours engagée de travailler de façon harmonieuse et productive avec différents collaborateurs pour développer de nouvelles façons de faire, des concepts inédits ou des projets communs sous diverses formes.

  • Majda El Hannaoui

    J’ai grandis dans la ville de Casablanca au Maroc et j’ai fais des études en marketing dans une école de commerce. J’ai commencé ma vie professionnelle dans la vente avant de passer au marketing. J’ai travaillé dans différents secteurs d’activité, mais là où j’ai passé le plus d’années d’expérience est le domaine médical. Ma passion c’est la lecture les voyages pour se détendre et découvrir d’autres cultures. Je suis une personne toujours à l’écoute d’autrui et prête à apporter mon aide en cas de besoin.

  • Felcia Godet

    Felcia Godet is originally from the Bahamas and has been in Canada now for just a year, having fled the Bahamas with her two children, where she was unable to live her life and love who she wanted to love. While there, she lived in fear and shame of her sexual orientation. She has always been driven to speak the truth and to stand up for justice for people who are unable to stand up for themselves. She is currently pursuing her passion for Astrology at the Rasa School Of Astrology located in Etobicoke, Ontario. She feels as though she is a lifelong learner, on a venture to better understand the ways in which to help people like herself, newcomers to Canada, which she feels starts with them understanding themselves better. She is confident that this is where her life purpose lies, helping people fall in love with themselves so that they are capable of loving others, and being of service to their fellow humans.

  • Joseph Jilitovich

    Joseph Jilitovich is currently employed as a Settlement Counsellor with the Orientation Services for Newcomers team at the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre (LCCLC). He immigrated to Canada in 1994. At that time, he commenced his employment in the settlement sector with LCCLC on a part-time basis and later advanced to a full-time position in 2002. His position enables him to advocate and provide information/orientation pertaining to issues concerning newcomer settlement. He also delivers anti-homophobia trainings within the newcomer population and ESL/LINC schools as well as provides LGBTQ+ awareness training in collaboration with other agencies who serve newcomers. He has accomplished many things since emigrating to Canada. Some accomplishments include sitting on two Advisory Committees for both the Positive Spaces Initiative and Accessibility programs (both run by the Ontario Council of Agency Serving Immigrants, OCASI). During the round table events focusing on LGBTQ+ Refugee issues, he took part in the Envisioning Global LGBTQ+ Human Rights project. Lastly, he was nominated for the ‘I Am London’ social media campaign in 2013 as a result of his inspiring story of arrival and settlement.

  • Fatou Joof

    I am a bonifide Gambian. I am very articulate and competent I am on the go to take up tasks that comes my way. My motivation comes from inspiring people, bringing people together and also making sure the people who look up to me are comfortable and find the means of standing better on their own. With my years of experience in dealing with the human cycle I am positive and will do much better if I am placed in a crowd or being asked to lead people.

  • Yasin Kokarca

    Yasin works as the communications assistant at Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and committed to contributing his share in improving equity within the community and taking a critical stance on discourse. His personal interests include data visualization, photography, and everything on rails.

  • Klausky Mathurin

    Klausky, originaire d’Haïti, est leader actif de la communauté LGBTQIA+, avec 7 ans d’expériences en développement communautaire et en création d’espaces inclusifs. Depuis son arrivée au Canada comme réfugié, Klausky étudie à l’université York, a été président de FrancoQueer et champion d’OCASI. Il parle couramment le créole, le français, l’espagnol et l’anglais. Diplômé en administration des affaires, il est passionné par la gestion des ressources humaine, la culture organisationnelle et par l’établissement, l'intégration et le développement professionnel des membres racialisés de la communauté LGBTQIA+. Il est aussi passionné par le design, la mode et les beaux-arts.

  • Mary Shorun

    Mary Shorun is a bisexual woman originally from Nigeria. She has lived in North America for over a decade and has been living in Toronto for a little under two years. She is passionate about issues surrounding queerness, refugees, and the LGBTQ+ identified newcomer community in Ontario. Mary has always been motivated to speak for people who are struggling to have a voice or whose voices are being silenced because of marginalization. Her profound love for the nonprofit began way back when she lived in the United States and since relocating to Mississauga earlier in 2021, she has developed and facilitated bi-weekly Tuesday peer-led sessions at The Neighborhood Group’s Rainbow Connect program. Primarily a Supply Chain enthusiast and part-time creative writer, Mary is now very excited to amplify her impact in society as an OCASI Positive Spaces Champion by continuing to support her fellow newcomer LGBTQ+ identified folk with her voice and lived experiences as a bisexual immigrant in Canada. 

  • Paul Wasswa

    Paul is an experienced Administrative and Communications professional with a combination of skills in business administration, program management, and community engagement, developed through enthusiasm and dedication to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Originally from Uganda, where he established and coordinated development and community projects in collaboration with several agencies and international non-profits, as well as serving a number of roles in various churches there, he worked with refugees, homeless communities, and other minorities. Paul relocated to Canada in the 2000s, and in 2015, Paul moved to Toronto where he has been involved with various Newcomer Resettlement programs and services, including the City of Toronto’s TYPE Program for Newcomer Youth. Paul loves music, dance, and drama, as well as creative writing and photography. He has performed live music at various community events around Toronto, as well as has been involved in various other community engagement projects. He holds a University degree in Business Administration Marketing, a University Diploma in Management, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Projects Management, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Community Development, as well as a Certificate as an Office Professional. Paul lives by the motto, “invest in people’s hearts”.

Staff

  • Sizwe Inkingi

    Bilingual Coordinator, Positive Spaces Initiative
    OCASI

    Sizwe Inkingi is an Afropolitan queer, passionate about community building and empowerment. Sizwe moved to Ottawa, Canada five years ago to complete their tertiary education at Carleton University. They have a Bachelors degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management and they are currently working for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants’ in Toronto as the Bilingual Coordinator for the Initiatives Espace Positif also known as the Positive Spaces Initiative. PSI seeks to build the capacity of the immigrant- and refugee-serving sector in Ontario particularly to serve LGBTQ+ newcomers. Sizwe’s work primarily focuses on supporting the creation of national LGBTQIA+ guidelines that offer operational skills, tools, and resources to ensure that gender and sexually diverse immigrants, refugees and newcomers are accessing barrier-free settlement services. She is a part of numerous advocacy initiatives that work to strengthen the network of LGBTQIA+ newcomer communities to Canada.

  • Onar Usar

    Coordinator, Positive Spaces Initiative
    OCASI

    Onar Usar is a proud queer Muslim, disabled femme of color, and more recently a parent to a delightful toddler. She is a racialized settler who arrived in Canada as an international student for more than two decades ago.  She brings considerable experience in working with and supporting LGBTQIA+ individuals with intersecting identities through referrals, information and resource sharing, education, advocacy and community building activities. Onar holds a Masters Degree in Women’s Studies and is passionate about community education.