The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.
Senator for Ontario, The Senate of Canada
Distinguished Visiting Professor,
Global Diversity Exchange (GDX) at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. She came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement have been the foundation of her work. In April 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ms. Omidvar to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. As a member of the Senate’s Independent Senators Group she holds a leadership position as the Scroll Manager.
Senator Omidvar is the founding Executive Director and currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. GDX is a think-and-do tank on diversity, migration and inclusion that connects local experience and ideas with global networks. It is dedicated to building a community of international leaders who see prosperity in migration. Previously, Senator Omidvar was the President of Maytree, where she played a lead role in local, national and international efforts to promote the integration of immigrants.
Senator Omidvar is the current Co-Chair of the Global Future Council on Migration hosted by the World Economic Forum and serves as a Councillor on the World Refugee Council. She is also a director at the Environics Institute, and Samara Canada and is the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Chair Emerita and was formerly the Chair of Lifeline Syria.
Senator Omidvar is co-author of Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015), an Open Book Toronto best book of 2015 and one of the Toronto Star‘s top five good reads from Word on the Street. She is also a contributor to The Harper Factor (2016) and co-editor of Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success (2011). Senator Omidvar received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, York University in 2012.
Senator Omidvar was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011, with both honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and devotion to reducing inequality in Canada. In 2014, she received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of German-Canadian relations.
Senator Omidvar has also been recognized by Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, by being named as its Nation Builder of the Decade for Citizenship in 2010. She was named to the inaugural Global Diversity List sponsored by The Economist magazine in 2015, as one of the Top 10 Diversity Champions worldwide. In 2016, she also received Lifetime Achievement Awards from CivicAction and the Canadian Urban Institute, honouring her strong commitment to civic leadership and city building.
Lorelle Juffs grew up in Linden, Manitoba, a community of less than 400 people. Remaining in the prairies, she graduated from the University of Manitoba, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree, with a major in Anthropology. During her undergraduate degree, Lorelle worked with international students, assisting them in the transition to their new home. To better understand their experience and broaden her own horizons, Lorelle spent five months on exchange in Istanbul, Turkey, where she studied language, culture and philosophy. Now at Ryerson University, Lorelle is pursuing her Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies. Her current research focus is on the experiences of migrants within the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, with the goal of improving integration and settlement processes and promoting community inclusivity.