Join us as we celebrate the diversity, heritage, and incredible accomplishments of South Asians in Canada, and explore how their legacy continues to shape the nation’s future.

From trailblazing entrepreneurs and influential politicians to groundbreaking artists and dedicated community leaders, South Asians in Canada have made indelible marks on the country’s landscape. Read their inspiring stories, highlighting their achievements and the lasting impact they have on Canadian society.

Alberta Sikh History Project

Read more about the Alberta Sikh History Project, an initiative led by our own board member, Professor Michael Hawley, Ph.D., from Mount Royal University.

Our next notable South Asian needs no introduction. Naheed Nenshi was born in Toronto in 1972, with his family shortly after settling in Calgary. He would attend the University of Calgary, receiving a Bachelor of Commerce, before attaining a Master of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. After his education, Mr. Nenshi pursued a career in consulting, while also being an active citizen, establishing citizen forums and government watchdog organizations. In 2010, Nenshi began his career in politics, successfully becoming Calgary’s mayor as an outsider candidate, and the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. His campaign was noted for its revolutionary use of social media, something that other politicians across the continent would follow in the years to come. Another unique approach to Nenshi’s campaign was its non-partisan nature, and appeals to both Red Liberal and Blue Conservative voters, hence the dubbing of the campaign as the Purple Revolution. Mr. Nenshi would serve as mayor for three terms, ending his tenure in 2021. Recently, Mr. Nenshi has moved into provincial politics, becoming leader of the Alberta NDP after a landslide victory of 86%, which saw tens of thousands new members join the party. As with his municipal politics, Mr. Nenshi plans to run a broad tent campaign, hoping to bring swing voters into the Alberta NDP fold for Alberta’s 2027 election.

Inspired by an experience he had shortly after immigrating to Canada at eighteen, Baldev Singh Mutta founded Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) in 1990 to address the unique mental health concerns facing the South Asian community. Since then, PCHS has developed into an international non-profit organization with offices across Canada, Australia, and India, and with over 15,000 individuals served. PCHS has developed unique approaches to addressing some of the most common mental health related issues plaguing the South Asian community, from alcoholism and addiction to domestic violence and elder abuse. Baldev Singh Mutta’s work with PCHS has been highly influential in the mental health field, and has highlighted the need for culturally sensitive and aware therapeutic services. To say Baldev Singh Mutta was a pioneer in the mental health field would be an understatement. Today, Baldev Singh Mutta has transitioned into a consulting career, spreading his knowledge and expertise.

After her education at the University of Calgary and then later at the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Toor opened the N.E. Women’s Health Clinic in 2007 with a mandate of serving marginalized immigrant populations. The clinic became a major success, serving over 100,000 patients in the last 17 years. More recently, Dr. Toor was a central figure in advocating for universal coverage of contraceptives through her non-profit, Project EmpowHer, and through her efforts pushed to get contraception covered with the federal government’s announcement of pharmacare. Today, Dr. Toor continues her work in clinic as well as with her non-profit, now attempting to ensure that the provincial governments implement a form of contraceptive coverage as per the federal pharmacare plan. Dr. Rupinder Kaur Toor is a tireless advocate for women’s health.

After graduating from law school at the University of Windsor in 1994, he worked in London, England, ran a law firm in Golden, BC, worked at the federal Department of Justice in Ottawa and Edmonton. In 2009, he became a criminal prosecutor with Alberta Justice in 2009, rising to Deputy Chief Prosecutor. Along the way, he earned a Masters of Law from the prominent Osgoode Law School in 2019. In 2020, he was elected by his peers as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta, the licensing body for lawyers, and in 2023 received the prestigious appointment of ”King’s Counsel”. His strongest supporters are his wife Ruth and daughter Raj.

Justice Ahluwalia’s appointment to the bench marks a very special and historical time in Canada. Out of the now approximately 41 judges of South Asian origin across Canada at all levels of Court, Justice Ahluwalia is the first turbaned male judge across all of Canada.

Executive Director, Philanthropy at Bethany Care Foundation which supports the Bethany Care Society, for being awarded the Inclusive Leadership Award by Immigrant Champions of Canada.

Amtul has been a passionate and dedicated advocate for diversity and inclusion for the better part of her life. Born in a small town in Idaho in the 1970s to Muslim parents who had immigrated from Pakistan, Amtul grew up harbouring a deep longing to fit in. Fortunately, she was gifted with a forward-thinking father whose philosophy was to embrace and explore the richness of diversity of people, their backgrounds, and their varied ways of thinking. It was her father’s influence that helped shape Amtul’s tenacity and sparked her lifelong interest in finding ways to promote inclusion, social connection, and unmitigated belonging.

Amtul has been a strong advocate for diversity, social connections and key partnerships in the not-for-profit world and in communities she has lived in for the past 20 years. She has championed causes close to her heart through positions at various organizations where she was the national fundraising lead for the 2016 Alberta fires and the 2013 Alberta Floods.

Her dedication to volunteer service outside of her job at Bethany Care Foundation is through her governance role on the Calgary Police Commission as Vice Chair. She is a champion for the diverse recruitment of police officers who reflect the communities they serve.

Amtul is also involved with diversity, equity and inclusion work at Wellspring Alberta; helping to make cancer care more inclusive. Amtul has honed her communication skills and can bridge the gap of understanding between various stakeholders, supporting collaboration towards a vision of inclusion for all.

Amtul’s has also served on SAIA’s award Selection Committee for our inaugural awards.

She is a strong voice not only in the non-profit community but in the immigrant community too.