We’re profiling some of Toronto Life’s Most Influential list. Earlier this week, we asked our girl Margaret Atwood for some smart life advice. For this installation, we got a chance to speak with Ratna Omidvar, head of Ryerson’s Global Diversity Exchange. A fighter for immigration and inclusion, Omidvar shares with us some of her sage wisdom on our diverse city.
What are you striving for right now, be it professionally or personally?
A more inclusive and compassionate Canada, one that welcomes everyone who wants to be a part of this country.
What’s on your current to-do list?
It’s a long list, but near the top is preparing for the arrival of the (large!) Syrian family we’re sponsoring through Lifeline Syria. There’s a great deal of work and commitment involved in refugee sponsorship, but it’s tremendously rewarding.
What places/spaces in Toronto inspire you?
The vibrant physical impressions that the people and communities who live in the city leave behind, neighbourhoods like Kensington Market and Roncesvalles Village, and buildings like the Bata Shoe Museum and the Aga Khan Museum. All of them tell a story of the people who created those spaces, all of them inspirational and beautiful in their own way.
What’s your best advice for individuals who are feeling uncertain of their next step?
It’s important to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C, but at the same time be flexible and open to unexpected opportunities — life never unfolds how you think it will, and that’s a good thing.
What objects in your home do you cherish?
While not technically *in* my home, my garden is a particular treasure.
In your opinion, who or what in our city currently deserves a spotlight?
The many people who came to Toronto as refugees, from its beginnings to the present day. In fact I wrote a book, Flight and Freedom, to document some of those stories because I want them to become part of our collective memory.
Toronto Life’s Most Influential issue is now available for purchase. Learn from the city’s top leaders, in every discipline.