Mariam (Shoogofa) Nasrri
Born in war-torn Afghanistan in the 1980s, Mariam faced racism, abuse and extreme trauma. She endured living in scarcity as a refugee, and escaped a forced marriage to a Taliban sympathizer before making her way to Canada.
Then, just as things were looking up in 2009, Mariam suffered life-changing injuries from a bad fall, leaving her with a decade of chronic pain, depression and isolation. Medicated and immobile, she struggled with PTSD from the childhood memories of abuse that arose from the accident.
Despite her own ordeals and lengthy rehabilitation, she has returned to Afghanistan on several occasions to help Afghan women with drug addiction and mental illness. She has written a play on Afghan victims of domestic violence, hosted a TV show that puts the spotlight on social issues within the Afghan community and established a non-profit, all while continuing to volunteer for charities such as Coast Mental Health.
From the time she was a child, Amanda Staller faced traumatic physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. She was addicted to cocaine, working in the sex trade, and living a high-risk lifestyle before reaching adulthood. In the years that followed, she endured recurring periods of addiction, incarceration, overdoses, abuse, recovery and relapse.
After escaping a dangerously abusive situation, Amanda found the courage and determination to complete a certificate in addictions counselor and a diploma as an addictions counsellor. She pursued job opportunities where her past was recognized as a strength rather than a liability, while sponsoring several women through Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and volunteering her time to numerous organizations.
Amanda’s powerful combination of education, experience and tenacity have transformed her life and her community. She has allowed her story to be featured in several notable books and documentaries and is a highly sought-after public speaker in academic circles as well as in recovery groups and correctional facilities.
Corey Hirsch was, on the outside, at the peak of his career, playing professional hockey at the 1994 Olympics, for the New York Rangers and later the Vancouver Canucks. But he was battling with an extreme case of undiagnosed OCD – leading to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. In the competitive world of professional sport, it was unthinkable to speak about mental health. Finally, it became impossible to ignore, and, diagnosed with OCD, he began a 10-year journey to finding the correct treatment and leaving professional hockey behind as a result.
In 2016, Corey penned a now-famous editorial for The Player’s Tribune, breaking wide open the issue of mental health in sport. Many other athletes have since opened up about their own mental health struggles; it has sparked debates in the industry and resulted in concrete changes on many teams and leagues.
Corey has since become an active and vocal advocate for mental health, speaking to people of all ages, in sport, and in the community across the country about the topic.
A vicious attack at the hands of her then-husband left Rumana blind and in need of facial reconstructive surgery. Just one month after the attack, Rumana, her parents and her daughter returned to Vancouver as she dealt with the psychological impacts on her mental health and the physical injuries from the attack. She had to re-learn how to read, write, walk, and live without her eyesight while raising her daughter and providing for her family.
Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Rumana found new ways to complete her research and thesis for her Masters in Political Science, and moved on to Law School and then a job at the Department of Justice – each time learning the new and additional skills she needed in order to succeed without her sight. A powerful advocate of social justice for women, particularly victims of domestic violence, Rumana uses her experience to help empower others.
Eighteen-year-old Andrew Teel spent his first six years in foster homes with little stability or security. His experiences left him with PTSD and phobias of starvation and thirst, coupled with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affects his cognitive abilities. When he met his daycare provider Sandy Teel, who adopted him on his last day at kindergarten, he knew he wanted to be loved too.
Supported by his new family, Andrew was determined to overcome his barriers to learning and mobility issues and defied expectations by committing himself to excel at school and in sport. In June 2020, he graduated high school with his fellow classmates. Blessed with a deep sense of empathy, he has raised funds for charities since he was in Grade 5 to the BCSPCA and to date he has raised over $60,000 for Covenant House BC with his Twoonies for Teens initiative.