Dec 30 2011

Ratna OmidvarWe are so very, very excited to congratulate Ratna Omidvar on being appointed a Member of the Order of Canada!

We think this is a great opportunity to reflect on some of Ratna’s recent thoughts and insights about her experience coming to Canada, and her hopes and dreams for our country.

For those of you who may be new to Ratna, here’s a short bio:

Ratna Omidvar is president of Maytree, a private foundation that promotes equity and prosperity through its policy insights, grants and programs. Under Ratna’s leadership, Maytree has been recognized for its commitment to developing, testing and implementing programs and policy solutions related to immigration, integration and diversity in the workplace, in the boardroom and in public office.

Two recent initiatives have been the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project. Internationally, Maytree is best known for the Cities of Migration project.

Ratna serves as a director of Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance (formerly Toronto City Summit Alliance), the chair of the Board of Directors of TRIEC, and a director of Connect Legal.

In 2006, she was appointed to the Order of Ontario and, in 2010, the Globe and Mail profiled Ratna as its Nation Builder of the Decade for Citizenship.

Last year, Ratna gave the 4th annual June Callwood Lecture at the Toronto Reference Library. Her speech, “A Canadian in the Making,” was of a very personal nature and she chose to write four letters to Canada:

  • Exile
  • Endurance
  • Awakening
  • Redemption

“As I prepared for this year’s lecture, I thought about the thirty years since my arrival in Canada, and how much Canada and I have changed,” explained Ratna. “How much we both are a work in progress…. I’m going to tell you my story in Canada… My story is no different than that of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who choose to make Canada their home. We all have a starring role in the same reality show.”

Read more (PDF) and watch Ratna describe her journey from exile to belonging, from refugee to one of leading social activist creating opportunities for a better Canada.

YouTube Preview Image

While Letters to Canada chronicles much of Ratna’s life in Canada, she hasn’t stopped reflecting, wondering and contributing to our country.

Recently, Ratna Omidvar expanded on her hopes for Canada when she spoke about immigration, integration and inclusion at the second Martin Luther King lecture organized by the Koerber Foundation in Hamburg.

Titled “The Next Dream,” Ratna noted that it is now more and more unlikely in countries such as Canada to witness open acts or expressions of racism. But systemic barriers to inclusion still exist. While much has been accomplished in the battle for equality, Dr. King would agree that much still needs to be done. Ratna discussed how one important way to overcome these barriers is to focus on, talk about and learn more about how immigration impacts us positively. That is the only way to get past one’s inherent fear of the new, different and foreign.

Martin Luther King lecture – listen:

Read the full text of her lecture online.

In 2012, Ratna’s call to action to all of us in Toronto, and beyond, is to focus on our mutual hopes and dreams, to connect more with each other, to invest in our communities. She asks us all to really focus on the hard but rewarding work of inclusive community engagement.

“So my hope for 2012 is for all of us to get a tad sticky and to put our fingers in the glue.”


Marco Campana is a communications expert living in Toronto and Maytree's former content manager.

18 Responses to “Ratna Omidvar among Order of Canada recipients”

  1. Layne Daggett says:

    Congratulations Ratna.
    Canada is honoured by honouring you.
    Layne Daggett
    YVR Chaplain

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello Layne, Thanks very much for your kind words to Ratna.

  3. Doug Piquette says:

    What a fitting affirmation and recognition of your work Ratna! Congratulations.

    Thank you for being such an inspiring and tenacious leader for Canadians and for our new Canadians.

    Doug Piquette
    Executive Director
    Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)

  4. Michelle says:

    I am so proud to work at Skills for Change, where Ratna Omidvar was its first executive director.  Such positive influence that has brought Canada such great change.

    Thank you and Congratulations!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your kinds words and congratulations Doug! We’ve passed your message along to Ratna.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Skills for Change has become such an impactful and important organization in our city, thanks for your kind words! We’ve passed your message along to Ratna.

  7. Monika Feist says:

    Congratulations Ratna!  You are so deserving of this award.  We, in the immigrant community, have benefitted so much from your insights, works and initiatives.  You have inspired me on many occasions to keep pushing ahead and that change is possible.  Thank you!

    Monika G. Feist, CEO
    Success Skills Centre
    Winnipeg, MB

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Monika, for your kind words and personal reflection. We’ve passed along your message to Ratna.

  9. Guadalupe Herrera says:

    I am so proud to work at  the Rexdale Womne’s Centre;  an agnecy that provides a ssist new immigrants. I have the opportunity to meet and work with Ratna Omidvar at OCASI when she was the President. She is such great inspiration and motivates many  of us to conitnue our work. She isa  great leader and have such positive influence that has brought Canada such great change.Thank you and Congratulations!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello Guadalupe. Thanks for your kind words and memories of your work with Ratna! We’ve passed your message along to her.

  11. Sujit says:

    Congratulations Ratna! This is great news.


  12. Keith Hernandez says:

    This recognition for Ratna comes as no surprise! Due to myself also being an advocate of newcomer support, I have followed Ratna’s career and accomplishments over the past several years. She has become a role model to me and unknowingly her passion has influenced my drive for success. I am always hoping that one day I will be given the oportunity to do some work with her and be able to demonstrate my capabilities.

    Congrats Ratna, we are all so proud of you!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Sujit, we’ve passed along your message to Ratna.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your kind words, which we’ve passed along to Ratna. Feel free to join us at some of our upcoming Five Good Ideas events:

  15. Jeff Thomas says:

    It’s about time! :)

    Great speech by the way!

    Stories are one of the finest and most personal forms of communication!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jeff, we agree that stories are powerful and Ratna is a natural story teller! Thanks for your kind words, we’ve passed them along to Ratna.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jeff, we agree that stories are powerful and Ratna is a natural story teller! Thanks for your kind words, we’ve passed them along to Ratna.

  18. Tijan says:

    Very powerful, interesting, educative speech. Thank you for sharing. Congratulation Ratna!

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