Share on Facebook

Great Canadians: Ordinary People Making a Difference

From helping families affected by physical disabilities and mental disorders to giving sexual abuse victims a voice, these Canadians are making an impact within their own communities and around the world.

1 / 12
books-not-bombs-saving-syriaPhoto: Brooke Wedlock

Great Canadians: Jusoor

Even though she’s more than 9,000 kilometres away from the Middle East, Toronto philanthropist Leen Al Zaibak is helping Syrian youth stay in school through her organization, Jusoor (the Arabic word for “bridges”).

Read her story here.

2 / 12
Kim Duffy (right) with her daughter Corinne (left)Photo: May Truong

Great Canadians: WaterStone Foundation

After her daughter Corinne struggled with bulimia and anorexia, Kim Duffy co-founded the WaterStone Clinic, a private eating disorder centre in Toronto. Now, the Duffys are giving families even more support through the WaterStone Foundation.

Read their story here.

3 / 12
Kate Eastman and her initiative Turn on the LightsPhoto: Heather Ogg

Great Canadians: Turn on the Lights


Kate Eastman was 23-years-old when she came forward. Less than three years later in 2015, Eastman (along with her mother, Debroah McEachern) founded Turn on the Lights. Her goal is simple: give sexual abuse victims a voice.

Read her story here.

4 / 12
Abigail Sampson (left) and Nicola Topsom of the Floriana Wedding ProjectPhoto: Brooke Wedlock

Great Canadians: Floriana Wedding Project


With the Floriana Wedding Project, sisters Nicola Topsom and Abigail Sampson have created a sustainable clothing business to help the residents of impoverished Port-au-Prince.

Read their story here.

5 / 12
Gary Blair and Earl Pinchuk, Art for HealingPhoto: Roger Aziz

Great Canadians: Art For Healing


With Art for Healing, Montrealers Gary Blair and Earl Pinchuk are humanizing the hospital experience by providing works of art to spaces that need it the most.

Read their story here.

6 / 12
Geetha Moorthy of the South Asian Autism Awareness CentrePhoto: May Truong

Great Canadians: South Asian Autism Awareness Centre


Geertha Moorthy, founder and executive director of Toronto’s South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC), is helping to end the stigma tied to children with special needs and disabilities.

Read her story here.

7 / 12
luke-anderson-stop-gapPhoto: Brooke Wedlock

Great Canadians: StopGap Foundation


With his StopGap Foundation, Luke Anderson is building a more accessible Canada, one building ramp at a time.

Read his story here.

8 / 12
Rob Rai of the Surrey Wraparound ProgramPhoto: Geoff Howe

Great Canadians: Surrey Wraparound Program


Through the Surrey Wraparound Program, Rob Rai is keeping at-risk Metro Vancouver teenagers out of gangs and in the classroom.

Read his story here.

9 / 12
Michael Battista and Gareth Henry of Rainbow RailroadPhoto: Brooke Wedlock

Great Canadians: Rainbow Railroad


Through Rainbow Railroad, LGBT activists Michael Battista and Gareth Henry are helping LGBT refugees find asylum in Canada.

Read their story here.

10 / 12
great-canadians-working-gearPhoto: Nicholas Halpin

Great Canadians: Working Gear


In 2007, Stephen Flynn realized that low-income men moving back into the workforce needed clothes for job interviews and construction sites. Through Working Gear, he provides a solution.

Read his story here.

11 / 12
Jennifer Gwilliam, founder of Helping Our Northern NeighboursPhoto: Lillie Louise Major

Great Canadians: Helping Our Northern Neighbours


Through Jennifer Gwilliam’s group Helping Our Northern Neighbours, Canadians can donate food, clothes and basic living supplies to families in remote northern communities, where food costs are insanely high.

Read her story here.

12 / 12
hearts-and-hammers-dave-bonkPhoto: Reader's Digest Canada

Great Canadians: Hearts & Hammers


Through the Hearts & Hammers charity, Calgary contractor Dave Bonk helps homeowners with mobility issues get around.

Read his story here.