Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is home to many incredible people. The youth in the community are no exception.
That is why the Top 20 under 20 program was developed – to celebrate some of the most influential youth in the Wood Buffalo Region.
Seham Ahmed is a Grade 12 student at Westwood Community High School. She has been part of MACOY for the past three years and has enjoyed being able to make an impact in the community.
Seham is also the Communications, Information, & Marketing Intern at KidSport and has been a part of many youth groups such as the Minister’s Youth Council and the Alberta Youth Parliament. Her passion for giving back to the community is shown by her continuous volunteering and initiatives. Seham hopes she can continue helping the people in her community!
Soham Arvikar is a Grade 11 student at Westwood High School. He enjoys a variety of things such as computer sciences, robotics and photography. He has a passion for helping his community and for bettering his city as a whole.
Muhammad Ali Qureshi
Muhammad Ali Qureshi is an incoming university student born and raised in Fort McMurray who enjoys public speaking and meeting new people.
He has been a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council On Youth (MACOY) for four years and had the opportunity this year to represent Canada at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas with his school’s robotics team.
Qureshi is also the founder and owner of Sports Injuries Simplified, an educational student run organization for simplifying athletic injuries as well as teaching basic sports medicine and musculoskeletal anatomy through the Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.
Carol Christian loves to write and tell people’s stories. She is a former journalist with a few awards, but no Pulitzer…yet…and loves being behind the camera catching awesome smiles and beautiful landscapes.
She is a strong believer in teamwork and helping others, and lives by the Golden Rule. Always engaged with her community, Carol is a long-time volunteer who always gives back. She thoroughly enjoys the outdoors, and all the pursuits that go with it…hiking, camping, and kayaking, and so on.
Carol is a human slave to two furry felines, believes music and books are amazing.
With a love of exploring, travelling is a big part of her life… and why her credit cards are always maxed out.
Originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Blake Crossley moved to Fort McMurray September 2nd, 2000 with his beautiful wife Candice. Together, they have two boys Kaleb (17) and Nathaniel (20), and a Labradoodle named Skywalker.
Blake has been an Infrastructure Analyst at Keyano College more than 18 years. He loves music and can be found playing his PS5 or watching WWE. He enjoys sports and is an avid runner who uses running as therapy for mental health and as a tool to raise awareness for various charities and for those who cannot run.
Rumour has it that he has an alter ego who appears from time to time wearing a green yellow striped hat with a feather and yellow tights. Apparently smiling is his favourite.
Blake believes that if it makes people happy then you are doing something right. Don’t deny the happy.
Snigdha Doraj is a Grade 11 student at Westwood Community High School, passionate about advocating for issues and loves giving back to the community.
She has been on MACOY for four years as part of the social equity committee, engagement and outreach committee, as well as the General Assembly.
As a social activist, avid reader, and full-time student, she aspires to one day bring change to the world around her.
Recently graduated from Westwood Community High School, Yusra Farooq begins her journey as a first-year student at the University of Saskatchewan, taking her degree in Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science).
As a member of the MACOY General Assembly Member and Committee Member, Yusra had many opportunities to confidently raise her voice and help the youth in various ways. She has been an active volunteer through many organizations in her community for numerous years, and her passion for assisting the community grew more assertive as she grew older.
When Yusra is not studying, you will see her spending time with her family and friends, making beautiful memories. Yusra loves travelling and enjoys the various exotic landscapes the world has to offer. She admires many vibrant artworks and has a passion for painting.
Dr. Anna Garber
Dr. Anna Garber, ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, University of Calgary, and University of Toronto. She is passionate about all aspects of children’s health, but has a keen interest in nutrition and digestion. Her goal is to build deeper connections and rapport with parents so they feel heard, supported, and understood. Dr. Garber also has a strong research background being involved in several research studies and publications. She appreciates the value research brings to the profession and patient care, and she has an evidence-informed practice at Juniper Naturopathic Clinic.
Jenna Hamilton was born and raised in Fort McMurray. She earned a Broadcast Journalism diploma from NAIT and started her news reporting career at Country 93.3 and 97.9 ROCK in 2016.
She continued her news reporting career in Calgary at 660 NEWS but returned to Fort McMurray in 2019. She met her now-husband at Nickelback at Shell Place and has planted roots in the community with him and their dog, Happy.
Jenna has been part of two team journalist awards, one for the Country 93.3/ 97.9 ROCK Radio coverage of the Fort McMurray Wildfire and the 600 NEWS team’s 2019 Provincial Election coverage.
She is a lover of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she sees herself in Dwight Schrute, prefers Chinese food over pizza and grunts at the TV during Football Sunday. (Fly Eagles Fly!)
Manorama Joshi goes to the University of British Columbia as a first-year engineering student who enjoys working in the community to create a better place.
She is a Schulich Leader Scholarship winner and is an avid volunteer with local organizations in Fort McMurray. She was the founder of a local online workshop “Get Techy During COVID” and co-founder of Westwood’s club “Westwood Women in Technology”.
As a passionate youth, she loves to write about the outstanding young people in Wood Buffalo and looks forward to contributing to the community in the future.
Finn Leland is a creator and a self-proclaimed “jack-of-all-trades.” Currently studying design at MacEwan University, their passion lies in all manners of the arts; they spend their free time dreaming up, drawing, and crafting projects ranging from costumes to exotic pet enclosures. When they have the time to kick back and relax, their favourite podcast to listen to is Critical Role, and they can be found playing Animal Crossing on their Nintendo Switch. Finn prides themself on being hard-working and ready to learn.
Sparsh Patel is an incoming software engineering student at the University of Waterloo this fall. From national science fairs to competing in robotics at the international level, his love for technology only continues to grow.
Irene Olayinka is a first-year student at the University of Toronto, and recent graduate from Westwood Community High School. She was a recipient of the 2022 TD Community Leadership Scholarship and has volunteered with numerous community organizations including the Mayor’s Advisory Council of Youth and Alpha Hub. When she’s not busy forgetting to answer her emails, she is an avid reader and is always available to make stellar book recommendations.
Kiran Malik-Khan is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.
Christina MacKay has been a resident of Fort McMurray for the past 12 years and is mom to three young boys who were born and raised here. She has 15+ years experience working in government public relations, media relations and marketing, and also enjoys doing freelance writing in her spare time.
Mahi Prajapati is an ambitious grade 12 student attending Westwood Community High School. Through being passionate about serving her community and helping to create positive change for people around her, she has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls Inc, Alberta Health Services, Chamber of Commerce, Aloha Mind Math and the YMCA. In addition to this, she has also worked at Neuraura Biotech Inc, and Wood Buffalo Sports Connection throughout the summer.
She is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this collaboration, helping to highlight the amazing youth around the community, and inspire more youth to act upon their passions and create the change they want to see.
Alisha Rajpura is compelled to explore possibilities and use her potential to express passion through literature. She has developed relationships through experience and volunteerism as an advisor, tutor, and poet in Fort McMurray.
As a diligent daughter, student, and advisor, she has always admired storytelling as it cultivates character, develops understanding, and enhances perception.
Alisha enjoys nurturing and kindling hope in little learners. She encourages them to harness their skills and pursue their dreams. Alisha is interested and determined to benefit humanity through using her acquired knowledge to assist those in need.
Aarushi Vasal is a grade 11 student at Westwood Community High School with a desire to pursue a career in medicine in the future.
Her admiration for STEM has led her to participate in science fairs over the years. Aarushi’s love for music shines through her active involvement in the theatre arts community. She performs at the annual Oilsands Rotary Music Festival in many disciplines.
Aarushi is passionate about giving back to the community and does this by regularly volunteering with numerous non-profit organizations. She is an avid reader in her free time.
Momin Syed is the Communications Coordinator for the Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD). Momin has been a FMPSD volunteer since 2011, during this time he has helped organise numerous Robotics, Inventor’s Fair, Multimedia and Coding events. Momin is a Miner’s Heart recipient and a Composite High School graduate.
Momin believes in the power of stories; he loves collecting them and telling them to anyone who will listen. There is so much knowledge and growth that comes from sharing stories. He is incredibly thrilled to have this opportunity and looks forward to “Doing What’s Best for Kids”.
Umar Shad is an avid volunteer and is a commited member to the Mayor’s Advisory Council Of Youth General Assembly.
Countlessly poking his nose wherever assistance is needed, his passion of creating a difference in his community has always found a way to present him with numerous opportunities. One of those opportunities allowed him to collaberate with YMM and interview outstanding youth in Wood Buffalo while also getting a chance to write about them!
Sahar Saifee is a freelance writer and communications professional who is compelled to grasp the world around her and put it into writing and photography.
She has worked and volunteered as a communications advisor, social media coordinator and as a writer for local newspapers and organizations in Edmonton and Fort McMurray.
An avid reader, news junkie and passionate writer, she always admired the path of storytelling. Sahar enjoys the world of arts, fashion and culture.
Fareedah Sadek is a first year university student at the University of Ottawa studying political science. She is passionate about writing both fiction and non-fiction and you can always find her talking to a friend, listening to music or reading a book.