Diaspora Generation - Canadian Palestinians


Canadian Palestinian Association in Manitoba

Besque (Formally known as Arabesque)
Arabesque was born as Stephen Kawalit in 1981, in Toronto, to Arab Palestinian parents. He studied graphic communications management at Ryerson University and has been active in the music industry as a hip-hop artist since 1998, with a 2007 Juno award nomination to his credit. He has signed record deals in the US, Canada, the UK and Japan.​

Diana Buttu, LL.B.
Ms. Buttu was born and raised in Canada and graduated in law at Queen’s University. She is a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and is well known for her work as a legal adviser and a participant in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian organizations. She has been associated with both Stanford and Harvard Universities as well as with the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU).

In addition to her work with the Negotiations Support Unit, Ms. Buttu has labored extensively to influence the way in which the situation in Palestine and Israel is depicted by the media. She has also been involved in litigation at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, which resulted in its landmark opinion against Israel’s wall, which cuts through significant tracts of Palestinian territory on the West Bank, separating people from their schools, places of employment, and families.

While no longer employed by the PLO, Ms. Butto continues to work for justice for Palestinians. Her media work continues through collaboration with the Institute for Middle East Understanding. She also works with PalTel on sustainable agricultural development issues and teaches at Birzeit University in Ramallah.

Shawki Joseph Fahel
Mr. Fahel was born in Nazareth in 1950 and immigrated to Canada in 1968. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where he operates as a successful businessman. He is the hands-on owner/operator of JG Group of Companies, which focuses in the property development, restoration and management sectors.

​He was the secretary general of the Liberal Party in the City of Waterloo, Ontario, in 1994. In 2000 he was the Citizen of the Year in the Lions Club of Kitchener, in recognition of his long history of contribution to his community and general philanthropy. He is president and sponsor of two non-profit housing projects and has served as president of Multicultural Groups for the Charlottetown Accord in 1992, and of the Arab Businessmen Association in Toronto. 

Suzanne Al-Husseini
Chef Susan Al-Huesseini is originally from the village of Burin, in Nablus. She grew up in Ottawa and has established herself as a published celebrity chef, well known on regional TV and radio shows and the author of a number of original recipes and recipe books, including an impressive glossy book Modern Flavours of Arabia: Recipes and Memories from My Middle Eastern Kitchen which can be reviewed here http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Flavors-Arabia-Recipes-Memories/dp/0449015610

Khaled Al Sabawi
Mr. Khaled Al Sabawi was born on October 1, 1983, the son of Palestinian refugees from Gaza. He is a Canadian-Palestinian engineer and Founder and President of MENA Geothermal and the TABO Initiative. He graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada in 2006 and was the first certified Geothermal Engineers in the Middle East. 

Global Post named him ‘One of the World`s Top Energy Entrepreneurs’ in 2010 and in 2012 was ranked the 195th Most Influential Arab by Arabian Business Magazine in their Top 500 Most Influential Arabs. In 2013, Mr. Sabawi received the prestigious Takreem Award for Young Entrepreneurs.

Mr. Sabawi has demonstrated his leadership in the green energy industry through major projects such as the first geothermal systems in Palestine in 2007 and the subsequent installation of the largest geothermal system in the Middle East, at the American University in Madaba, Jordan. MENA Geothermal received the National Energy Globe Award in 2008 and 2011.

In 2010, as General Manager of UCI, one of the largest real-estate development companies in Palestine and parent company to MENA, Mr. Sabawi initiated TABO (Arabic for ‘title deed’), creating and registering title deeds and expanding property rights in Palestine. TABO provides a means of protecting Palestinians land and allowing Palestinians the ability to own affordable land in Palestine. Through title deed registration Palestinian land is protected against illegal annexation and settlement expansion.

Mr. Sabawi has been a speaker at TEDxRamallah; has lectured at McGill University in Canada; at Harvard University and MIT in the United States. 

Samah Sabawi
Samah Sabawi is a Canadian writer of Palestinian origin. She was born in Gaza in 1967 months after the six day war. Her family was uprooted from their home as a result of Israel`s military occupation and like many other Palestinians; they were condemned to a lifetime of exile. 

Sabawi is a human rights activist, political analyst, playwright and poet. She has worked in positions of significant influence, such as being the Executive Director and media spokesperson for the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations; and serving as a subject matter expert for the Canadian Foreign Service Institute. 

Ms. Sabawi wrote and produced the critically acclaimed plays Cries from the Land and Three Wishes and her recent play Tales of a City by the Sea will be staged in 2014 in theatres in Melbourne, Gaza and the West Bank. 

​Sabawi is a sought-after public speaker and educator on topics related to human rights, peace-building, women in conflict zones, the Palestinian right of return, and providing an informed perspective on the current political developments in the Arab world. She has also served as a Public Advocate for Australians for Palestine and is a policy advisor to the Al-Shabaka Palestinian Network. Samah Sabawi is a regular contributor to AlJazeera English and her opeds have appeared in various international media outlets. Samah Sabawi lived in Ottawa between 1991 and 2009 and maintains strong connections to Canada, a place she calls home.

Dr. Rafeef Ziyada
Dr. Ziyada’s family was part of the exodus via boat to Lebanon from Haifa in 1948. After surviving the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s and the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982, Ms. Ziyada’s family started a long journey, travelling around the world as stateless Palestinians. She lived in many places including Lebanon, Tunisia, Cyprus, and Greece before she immigrated to Canada. 

She is currently completing her studies towards a Ph.D. in political science at York University in Toronto while also working as a teaching fellow at the Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of London, UK. She is a Canadian Palestinian who describes herself as a ‘performance poet and human rights activist.’ Her debut was the spoken-word album ‘Hadeel’, which is dedicated to the youth of Palestine. This project had been made possible through a Word of Mouth program grant from the Ontario Arts Council. In 2012 she represented Palestine at the South Bank Center Poets Olympiad.

​Ms. Ziyada has travelled extensively internationally since the release of her album, performing and conducting workshops. Her performances of poems like ‘We Teach Life Sir’ and ‘Shades of Anger’ went viral within days of their release. She wrote ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ following the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008/2009 after a Canadian journalist asked her, “Ms. Ziyada, don’t you think that everything would be resolved if you would just stop teaching so much hatred to your children?” 

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shalaby (1956 – 2012)
Dr. Shalaby was born in Amman, Jordan on March 20, 1956, a renowned architect and interior designer and holds a PhD. in Fine Arts, Architecture and Interior Design.    Al-Shalaby idenfied deeply through his art and personal conviction with the Palestinian people and their struggle for identity and freedom.  His art is very powerful, it depicts Nakba, the catastrophe, Exodus and the Odyssey of the Palestinian people and much of his work explored heritage, folklore, memories of sumoud or steadfastness, longing to homeland and the beautiful architecture and civilization in Palestine and the Arab World both past and present. miriamswell1.wordpress.com/.../by-canadianpalestinian-artist-dr-ibrahim https://www.flickr.com/photos/44802616@N08/  https://www.facebook.com/artistibrahim.shalaby/photos.   A prolific artist and illustrator, Al-Shalaby embraced an impressive variety of styles including the impressionist, abstract, experimental, calligraphic, realist and portraiture. He had a particular affection for horses and their expressive nobility.    He is also a gifted visual poet, proud of his heritage, passionate about his art and sensitive to every range of human experience.  His paintings of ancient streets and buildings in the old city of Jerusalem evoke more of the poet than the architect. He published various interior design books and received the King of Peace award from King Abdullah II of Jordan.  In 2004, he called the Artist of Peace by the International School of Studies for Universal Peace in Italy.  He was named the Best Muslim Canadian Artist numerous times muslimfest.com/visual-art/past-exhibits/exhibit-2010 and was the president of CAOCA (Canadian Arab Organization of Culture and Art), a Not for Profit organization and took part in many Canadian Islamic Congress events including the first years of Islamic History Month Canada, bringing eclectic displays of his work to cities across Canada.  His art was also exhibited in several countries including Turkey, Yugoslavia, W. Germany, Italy, Canada, USA, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, United Arab Emirates.  Al-Shalaby passed away in London Ontario on August 27, 2012 of kidney disease complications.

Rana Abdulla, CPA
Ms. Abdulla was born in Kuwait: her family is originally from Balaa/Tulkarem, Palestine. She immigrated to Canada with her husband, Rafe, settling in Quebec in 1987. Ms. Abdulla, mother of two at the time, completed her studies at St-Lawrence College, the University of Ottawa and Thompsons Rivers University, as well her Chartered Professional Accountant designation. She has lived and worked in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, and Winnipeg. 

Ms. Abdulla is a firm believer in human equality and human rights, consistently and tirelessly advocating for human rights for justice for her people.Ms. Abdulla works full time as an auditor. She taught accounting at Algonquin College in Ottawa part-time, and equally tirelessly in her spare time works in the cause of human rights; providing assistance and guidance to refugees and others in her community, and to ensure that the Palestinian story is depicted accurately.

​Many refugees to Canada have benefited from Ms. Abdulla’s care and support and she has extensively documented the personal narratives of Nakba survivors for their historic importance.Ms. Abdulla raised her four daughters with a strong connection to their Arab Palestinian roots. She has two grandsons. She is a collector of Palestinian heritage dresses and her house in Winnipeg is almost a Folk Art Museum. She authored Blind Love, a Palestinian historical novel and My Canada in Zaatar, a Cookbook-Memoir.

Nahla Ayed
Ms. Ayed was born in Winnipeg. Her family is originally from Annaba, a village west of modern-day Tel-Aviv. Her parents Hassan and Nariman immigrated to Manitoba in 1966 from Germany. 

They assimilated well with their neighbors and workers, but the Palestinian social homogeneity they were looking for was absent so they took their children back to a refugee camp to raise them with Palestinian values and to ensure they don’t forget their roots, despite the choice of residence. Fearing that their children were losing their cultural identity, her parents moved the family to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan where they remained for seven years. Ms. Ayed was six at the time.

The family eventually returned to Winnipeg and Ms. Ayed completed her education in Canada, earning a journalism degree at Carlton University. In 2002 she was employed by the CBC and assigned to working in Baghdad before and after the city fell during the Gulf War. Her coverage earned her a nomination for a Gemini Award and subsequently, in 2008, the University of Manitoba conferred an honorary doctorate in law degree on her for her distinguished achievements.

Her first book, A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter`s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring was published this spring. The book includes something of a love letter to the city that shaped the author. "Winnipeg was family, despite the fact that we had not a single relative there," Ayed writes. "Winnipeg is the safest home I've ever had," she adds. "It`s beyond home."

​She is a correspondent for the CBC News program, The National, primarily covering Canada`s foreign policy, and the country`s diverse makeup. 

Rawia Azzahrawi, MA
Ms. Azzahrawi was born in Kuwait, but her family was originally from Shweikeh/Tulkarem, Palestine. Her husband’s career as a pathologist took them to Saskatchewan initially, but they are now residents in Winnipeg where she is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Manitoba. 

​Ms. Azzahrawi is an influential and powerful teacher of the language and culture. She believes it is critical that those of us in the Arab-Canadian community recognize our obligation to support young people in accomplishing their goals and plays her part through the mentoring of young Arab-Canadian professionals in their personal development and advancing themselves.

​In 2010 she launched a glossy magazine ‘Sindibad’, the first North American publication of its kind. It is Islamic-centred and focused on kids. Its content is creative and stimulating, featuring content such as interviews with kids, articles on Islamic history as well as entertaining features such as puzzles and games. Other cultures around the world are also featured, to give a broad and balanced perspective.

Dr. Idris Elbakri, Ph.D.
Dr. Elbakri was born in Jerusalem and immigrated to Manitoba in 2005. He is an imaging physicist at CancerCare Manitoba and an assistant professor of Radiology and adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Manitoba. He obtained his BSc (Summa Cum Laude) and MSc from Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, USA and in 2003 obtained his PhD form the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. He has over 50 publications to his credit and has registered 3 patents.

​In 2011 he won the Richard Hoeschen Memorial Award, presented by the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation and the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre.Dr. Elbakri is active in the community. He volunteers with several organizations and has served as the chair of the board of Children`s House, a Montessori pre-school program in downtown Winnipeg, as the president of the Manitoba Islamic Association and as the chair of the leadership and management training program of the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada.

Reem Elhably, B.Sc.(Pharm.)
Ms. Elhably was born in Kuwait. Her father is originally from Sarafand/Ramleh, and her mother is from Tarshiha/Acre in Palestine. She immigrated to Canada from New Zealand. She is a board member of both the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association and the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. She is the owner of the Red River Pharmacy chain in Winnipeg. 

Ms. Elhably is a creative entrepreneur. By combining her businesses with other health care providers, offering specialised services and a strong link between doctors and patients, she gained a competitive advantage and created a niche market for her pharmacies. Ms. Elhably combines a fine sense of community with altruism and good business practice, which shows in her kindness to her clients.

Louay Al-Ghoul, LL.B.
Mr. Alghoul was born in Kuwait although his family is originally from Sarafand/Ramleh. He is a licensed lawyer in the Province of Manitoba and specializes in the fields of Immigration Law, Corporate and Commercial Law, Estate Law, Aboriginal Law and other various areas of the Law. 

Mr. Alghoul is known for his commitment to helping others through volunteer activities and the focus of his legal practice. His community affiliations include being the president of the Canadian Islamic Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

​He studied law at Robson Hall at the University of Manitoba and established himself as a community-minded student by serving in various capacities in a range of student bodies, such as being president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and in the role of Student Council Representative during his undergraduate years. At law school he served as student senator to the university senate; as class president; as vice-president of the Manitoba Student Law Association; and as President of the Business Law Group of the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Zana Lutffiyya
Dr. Lutfiyya was born in East Lansing, Michigan. She is originally from Baytin, Palestine. Living in the USA, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan as a child, she moved to Winnipeg with her family in 1969. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate and the University of Manitoba, completing her BA in 1976. Dr. Lutfiyya worked with individuals with intellectual disabilities until 1983. She completed her graduate training at Syracuse University from 1983-1989 and a post doctorate position from 1989-1992 on Human Policy. She joined the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in 1992. 

​​In her research she focused on the factors that help or hinder the social participation of individuals with intellectual disabilities into community life. She leads research initiatives within this theme that examine the influence of the social (de)valuation of vulnerable populations through the construction of perceptions and biases on end of life care.