Friday, 14 December 2018

Tackling racism and other -isms via language

Student; activist
City: London, Ontario
Country of Origin: India

As a 23-year-old, Sukhmeet Sachal has accomplished more than many do in a lifetime. Yet through all his achievements, he continues to embrace a humble demeanour. He is a budding benevolent leader who has a passion to make a difference in this world.

At the age of six, he immigrated with his family to Canada from India. Here, he settled down in Surrey, B.C., and started his education. In elementary and high school, he got involved with the community in all different aspects, which led him to becoming the class valedictorian. As a result, he was offered scholarships from various universities across Canada. Ultimately, he chose to complete his undergraduate studies at McGill University in anatomy and cell biology.

In his first year, he was elected by his peers as the president of the Freshmen Undergraduate Science Society. He continued as a Students Society of McGill University Science Representative, as well as Clubs and Services Representative. He was also selected as the academic director of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity for which he represented his university at the Academy of Leadership in to St. Louis, United States.

After completing his undergraduate degree, he decided to take some time off and volunteer around the world. In September 2017, he was selected as one of 60 students to join an eight-month master of public health program at Western University in London, Ontario.

He achieved great success in his program where he was selected as the class representative by his peers for his leadership skills and he hosts his own radio show on good health and well-being. He has been selected for an internship this upcoming summer with the Public Health Agency of Canada to discover the link between climate change, the increased prevalence of infectious diseases and mental health.

Additionally, he works with the Canadian Public Health Association in a working group addressing the ecological determinants of health. If he does not already have a lot on his plate, he is also working with a few of his professors in publishing academic papers and planning a project with the World Health Organization.

On top of being an excellent academic student, his extensive list of extracurricular activities and volunteering initiatives are equally impressive. In high school, he started a club called Students Without Borders after he noticed different cliques forming. Collaborating with Free The Children, his club raised around $10,000 toward building two wells in Kenya. In university, he slept outside every year for one week for a campaign called 5 Days for the Homeless raising $50,000 with his team towards ending youth homelessness.

Also, he has embarked on several medical mission trips to Ghana and Uganda, where he fundraised for hygiene kits and basic medical supplies. In 2016, he participated in the ninth Annual Medical Mission with Indo-Africa Charitable Society in Uganda. Volunteers consisted of various medical professionals who teamed up with local medical practitioners and with the excellent support from many young student volunteers, like him, they provided much needed medical services to over 20,000 patients.

Before coming to Uganda, through his organization Road2Wellness Foundation, he fundraised more than $2,500 in British Columbia to create hygiene kits for the patients at the medical camp, which consisted of toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap.

Upon his return to Canada, he shared the knowledge he gained in hopes of inspiring other youth in British Columbia by creating a short documentary about his trip.

Last year, Sachal embarked on a trip to the Arctic for six months to volunteer and teach Indigenous youth sciences and help them graduate. He hopes to return to this community in the future as a physician. And his new organization, Break The Divide, is connecting high school Indigenous youth in the Northwest Territories with youth across British Columbia to create cross-cultural dialogue. The groups discuss geography, political issues, and learn about each other’s culture and ancestry.

For his great work, Sachal was awarded a scholarship by the Vancouver Foundation and the Michaëlle Jean Foundation called the 2017 Fresh Voices Relationship with Indigenous People in Canada Award.

Sachal has been recognized with several honours, including the Darpan Youth Extraordinary Award, March 2014; the Giving Hearts Award Outstanding Youth Philanthropist, November 2013, and the Surrey Board of Trade Top 25 Under 25, May 2013, among others.

Source: http://canadianimmigrant.ca/news/tackling-racism-and-other-isms-via-language

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