Student Award Winners

2024 Taiga Galli Memorial Refugee Award – $4,000

Growing up in Afghanistan, Milad Rajabi realized that for her family to stay together and prosper, they needed to leave their homeland.  They experienced kindness while living temporarily in Turkey but found a new home once in Canada.  She refers to her experiences as, “a story of not giving up, hoping for better things, and changing for the good.”

2024 TCF Refugee Award – $4,000

Being a Yemeni living in Saudia Arabia, Salem Wahas faced educational barriers despite having the drive and qualifications to enter university.  With a short time in Yemen and the US, he finally found the welcome reception in Canada.  Though his first winter in Montreal was hard, he tried his luck in Toronto.  Douglas College turned out to be a best fit for him to learn English and soon Computing Science.

2024 Dr. William McMichael TCF Refugee Award – $4,000

Muntasir Abbakar saw his homeland of Sudan ravaged by war. His family sought peace and opportunity first in Jordan.  His classroom was his sanctuary.  But economic conditions were difficult, which caused stress on his whole family.  They came to Canada for it’s inclusivity and access to quality education.  He hopes to study a business program either at UBC or Okanagan College.

2024 Nicholas Collins Founders Refugee Award – $4,000

Jorya Alshahoud learned at a young age that war ruins families.  Hers was intact as they became refugees, each doing their part to provide for each other.  Coming to Canada, the whole family went back to school to earn high school diplomas as well as some, like Joyra, having plans for post-secondary.  She hopes to work in health care, helping the less fortunate with compassion and empathy.

2024 David Lam/BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarships – $4000 each

Olivia Chung was raised as an active, highly imaginative girl in Taiwan.  She moved to Canada with her family when she was in Grade 5.  Culture shock set in as she struggled with the new language and social norms; she calls this her “silent period.”  With time, patience and support of her loving teachers, she soon started to embrace opportunities for growth and now helps those who were in her shoes before.

Tian Tian Chen fills her days with academic rigor and compassionate volunteering opportunities.  Fueled by her profound passion for personal well-being and a strong desire to contribute to the human services sector, she is determined to pursue science-based programs, specifically in the fields of biochemistry or dietetics.

February 2023 Student Awards

2023 Taiga Galli Memorial Refugee Awards

Yahya Bakour, originally from Syria, is one of the recipients of the Taiga Galli Memorial Award in the sum of $3000.  To demonstrate his courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture, he has actively been involved in setting a positive example to youth living in and near downtown eastside.  He created a neighborhood cleaning project with his younger brother, posting videos of cleaning the neighborhood to encourage other youth to keep their community clean. BC Parks Foundation acknowledged and honored his initiative.

Abdulrahman Al Odat, also from Syria, is the other recipient of the Taiga Galli Memorial Scholarship Award in the sum of $3000.  To demonstrate his courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture, he uses technology to better his community. Last year, with the help of friends, he came up with the idea to create a website to help newcomers find easy access to essential resources. As the head of the development team, he helped make the website by designing the theme and incorporating resources in a user-friendly manner. Community centers and organizations now use our website to help guide people towards English classes and housing.

2023 TCF Refugee Awards

Omer Ismail is one of the recipients of the TCF Refugee Award in the sum of $3000.  In demonstrating his courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture through his persist work on his English. Being born in Syria, traveling through Turkey to get to Canada, writing and organizing ideas presented a challenge to the younger Omer. However, he showed up every day to his classes and steadily made progress on his writing assignments until he had completed them.

Adil Hamy, from Syria, is the other recipient of the TCF Refugee Award in the sum of $3000.  To demonstrate his courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture, when he just started to speak English, he was eager to practice as much as he could. He didn’t hesitate to try out his new language skills and ask questions that allowed him to improve. In a relatively short period of time, Adil was able to fully converse in English and became a teacher and translator for other family members.

2023 Nicholas Collins Founders Refugee Awards

Julia (Lama) Daboul, also from Syria, is one of the recipients of the Nicolas Collins Founders Refugee Award in the sum of $3000.  To demonstrate her courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture, at school she is a thoughtful and responsible student whose work ethic is clear. Even though she was engaged in multiple extracurricular activities, she kept track of her responsibilities in her classes, asked for support when she needed it, and was diligent in turning in work on time. When faced with a conflict between her part time job and whether or not it was affecting her ability to excel at school – she eventually decided to cut down on her work hours so she could focus more on her studies.

Einas Alabar is the other recipient of the Nicholas Collins Founders Refugee Award in the sum of $3000.  To demonstrate her courage and determination in adapting to a new language and culture she exemplifies resilience as she is a survivor of the Syrian War. This conflict took her dad’s life when she was seven years old. This forced her, her widowed mother and younger siblings to flee to Egypt and eventually to Canada. With her mum’s lack of English, Einas has become the family translator to help with doctor’s visits, and filling out forms, and making calls for her mum.

2023 David/BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarship

Klint Cholo Taaca, originally from the Philippines, is the recipient of the David Lam / BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarship in the sum of $4000.  To demonstrate his taking an active part in community and school service, Klint has been consistently involved with after school programs and plays a major role in the completion of various leadership projects. Klint demonstrates exceptional leadership and mentorship skills in planning and facilitating various games and activities for other newcomer students. In addition, he has shown his passion in supporting newcomer youth and has executed his role with a great sense of responsibility and accountability.

February 2022 TCF Awards for Students

2022 Taiga Galli Memorial Refugee Award

Bushra Wakaa won this year’s Taiga Galli Refugee Award, valued at $3,000.  Bushra was born in Syria in 1999.  When the war started, she and her family fled to Lebanon, where they became refugees.  There, her life changed completely, as she felt like an outcast and was forced to do manual labour.  This life continued for six years, during which time she always thought she would be able to return to Syria.  When she realized that returning to Syria was no longer possible, she began to search for a safe country, and was accepted as a refugee to Canada.  When she arrived, she was pregnant with her daughter, who was born just a few months later.  In the meantime, Bushra studied in the LINC program and reached Level 3. Now she is raising her daughter and looking after her parents while she is studying to better her situation.  She dreams of using her education towards a career in dentistry.  In her own words, “There is an old phrase that I like very much. It says that even if you are uneducated, you can work all day and night, but it will not benefit your society like the work of an educated person for an hour.”

2022 TCF Refugee Award

Hajer Al Mohamad won this year’s TCF Refugee Award, valued at $3,000.  Hajer was born in Syria in 2004.  She was just seven years old when war broke out in Syria, and after two exceedingly difficult years, she and the rest of her family were able to follow her father to Lebanon.  There, the family experienced unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.  After a few years in these conditions, Hajer and her family were accepted to Canada as refugees, and she finally felt safe and free.  Since coming to Canada, she has been working and studying at the same time, contributing to her family financially while bettering herself.  She plans to enter Vancouver Island University’s Medical Device Reprocessing Technician program in order to assist front-line health workers while also increasing representation of minorities in allied health care fields.  In her own words, “I believe that part of helping Canada live up to its multi-cultural identity is making sure that there is accurate representation of the diversity we have in all career fields so there is proper care of individuals.”

2022 Nicolas Collins Founders Refugee Award

Havi Mohammad, the winner of this year’s Nicholas Collins Founders Refugee Award, valued at $3,000, was born in Syria in 2004.  She was only seven when the war broke out in Syria.  Facing desperation, Havi’s family decided to make the difficult overland journey to Iraq, where they faced more uncertainty.  They lived as refugees in a seemingly hopeless situation in Iraq for two years, during which Havi was unable to work or attend school.  A family member finally arranged for them to flee to the safety of Canada.  Havi’s experiences in the war in Syria and the refugee camp in Iraq have made her want to give back by helping children.  For this reason, she hopes to have a career in pediatric medicine.  In her own words, “I would be able to make positive impacts in people’s lives, and improving the lives of patients would also boost my confidence in the work I’m putting effort in.”

David Lam/BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarship

Dijana Janjetovic, who won this year’s David Lam/BC TEAL English Language Scholarship, valued at $3,000, was born in Serbia in 2004.  As a 13-year-old newcomer to Canada, she was under pressure to excel in school, keeping a brave face while also enduring the social hardships faced by her whole family.  In order to keep herself centred, she escaped into the world of books.  At the same time, she observed both the strengths and the shortcomings of the medical system in Canada, particularly through her volunteer work and as vice-president of her school’s mental health club. Her goal is to become a biomedical engineer.  In her own words, “The future is unpredictable, yet we can soften any subsequent, deadly blows by investing in the technology and people that maintain society’s well-being.”

2022 TCF Refugee Award for Ongoing Study

Ahmad Daadaa, the winner of the 2022 TCF Refugee Award for Ongoing Study, valued at $3000, was born in Syria in 1993.  He is currently studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Victoria, and he says he is “passionate about designing and creating technical solutions that will help making the world a better place.”  He also hopes to collaborate with others to create solutions for today’s world.  Eventually, he hopes to parlay his education and experience into the entrepreneurial sphere, starting a business with others to “have a positive impact on society”.

February 2021 Awards for Students

Taiga Galli Memorial Award – $3000

Lulia Tela

Leaving her home in Eritrea at the age of six, Lulia, her sister and mother walked barefoot through Sudan to Egypt to Israel.  Her mother, tragically, didn’t complete the journey.  Lulia escaped her loneliness in Israel by focusing on her studies and learning three languages.  Reuniting with her father in Canada, she now sees herself as an important piece of a multicultural fabric.  She values her opportunities to be with her loving family and get an education.

TCF Refugee Award – $3000

Ngun Tin Hnem

Growing up during the aftermath of political uprisings in Burma, Ngun saw how hard work and honesty was valued in her family but not in her country.  She was denied an education and had to spend her childhood helping her grandfather in the fields.  Fleeing Burma to Malaysia and eventually Canada, her family’s journey took 4 years.  After a few challenging years adjusting to Canadian life, Ngun now excels and joins school clubs and volunteering opportunities.

Nicholas Collins Founders Refugee Award – $3000

Rama Altaleb

Being a top student in Damascus, Syria, couldn’t save Rama from the destruction of war.  With no formal schooling while at a refugee camp, her parents continued to educate her in not only academic skills but also building relationships, standing up for human rights and effectively resolving problems.  With hard work, she’s now back at the top of her class, sharing her experiences to help others.

Maria Karaji

Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, Maria knows too well the horrors of civil war, witnessing the bombing and destruction of her school.  A year after that day, with her parents and younger brother, Maria began her long journey to Lebanon and eventually Canada.  She studies, works and volunteers to help those who have similar stories.

David Lam/BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarship – $3000

Yeonsoo Joo

Born in Korea, Yeonsoo came to Canada in 2010 along with her parents and older sister.  She had to quickly adjust to a new educational system, valuing collaboration and creativity over intense academic pressures.  She wants to continue studying to be a doctor where she can merge her strong academic skills and her developing interpersonal ones.

February 2020 Student Awards

Amran Abdile Hassan Wins the 2020 Taiga Galli Refugee Award

Amran Abdile Hassan wins this year’s Taiga Galli Refugee Award valued at $3,000. Amran was born in Somalia in 2000. In 2002, Amran, her mother, and four siblings fled to Eritrea to escape the civil war in Somalia. The family traveled on foot for three months, eventually reaching a UN refugee camp where they lived for the next ten years. This was a sad and difficult period for Amran. The family was very poor, and Amran was regularly bullied because she was born with only one eye and Microphthalmia Syndrome. In 2013, Amran’s family was accepted by Canada as refugees. This spring, Amran will graduate from Bryne Creek Secondary and use her award to study Child and Youth Care at Douglas College, “so I may help youth and families like mine in the future.”

Mohammed Atasoy Wins the 2020 Taiga Galli Refugee Award

Mohammed Atasoy wins this year’s Taiga Galli Refugee Award, valued at $3,000. Mohammed was born in Turkey in 2001. In 2016, there was an attempted military coup in Turkey, and his family was caught in the crossfire. His father was accused of being a terrorist, and the family was forced to flee to Germany. In 2017, Mohammad and his brother were accepted by Canada as refugees and came to live in Burnaby. Both brothers began school with the support of a social worker whom Mohammed described as “literally an angel.” Mohammed will graduate from secondary this spring, and he will enter university in Fall. His dream is to become a doctor, as Mohammed explains, “I was the receiver of help, and now I want to help people for the rest of my life.”

Nadine Umutesi Wins the 2020 TCF Refugee Award

Nadine Umutesi wins this year’s TCF Refugee Award valued at $3,000. Nadine was born in 2000 and grew up in the Congo with her mother, two brothers, and a sister. Nadine’s mother passed away from cancer when Nadine was ten years old. In the same year, war broke out in Congo. One of Nadine’s brothers and her sister went missing after the war was declared, thereby forcing Nadine and her remaining brother to make a dangerous and difficult journey to Kenya to escape the war. After six years in Kenya, the UNHCR arranged Nadine to come to live in Canada with her aunt. At the same time, the rest of Nadine’s family were reunited and now live in Kigali, Rwanda. Nadine will graduate from secondary in June and plan to use her award to study for her Diploma in Dental Hygiene at Camosun College in Victoria.

Yu (Dora) Qi Wins 2020 David Lam / BC TEAL ELL Scholarship

Yu (Dora) Qi wins this year’s David Lam / BC TEAL English Language Learner Scholarship. Dora immigrated to Canada from Guanghong Province in China at the age of ten. Dora believes that “education is the only thing that has the power to change one’s fate.” Her parents were one of the first group graduates after living through the hardships of the Cultural Revolution in China. Dora believes that her parents’ generation has changed China. In turn, Dora wants “to be part of the generation that pushes Canada to new heights.” Dora will graduate from Moscrop Secondary in Burnaby in June. Dora is not only an excellent student but also an accomplished musician, a member of the Dragon Boat Team, the United Nations Connections Club, and the Leo Club. Her dream is to become a doctor. Dora writes, “ I am eager to become someone that is of real value to society.”