OBJECTIVES

  1. To work with other marginalized communities to unite and create collaboration on raising our concerns and highlighting the need to end the stigma on mental health.

  2. Continue to demystify the stigma within the South Asian community.

  3. Through campaigns and events, raise funds in support of The Royal Ottawa Foundation. 

  4. Work with community leaders and members to address the need of educating our members about mental illnesses.

  5. Assisting with moving the agenda forward to highlight the need to culturally appropriate resources for marginalized communities.

MISSION STATEMENT

To change perceptions about mental health within marginalized communities through education, advocacy, and raising awareness.

MEET OUR TEAM

Artist in Workshop

CORE PLANNING TEAM

meenakshi.jpg

MEENAKSHI SHARMA

Meenakshi Sharma is the founder of The Lotus Movement. Born and bred in Ottawa, Meenakshi has been immersed within the Ottawa community since a very young age. Growing up, it was all about the South Asian arts and culture. And this passion only grew: by organizing festivals, community events, and grassroots initiatives. Meenakshi understood that there was a need to have conversations around the social issues within the community. Having experienced her own struggles with mental health, Meenakshi very quickly realized that the Ottawa community lacks a resource or establishment for South Asian individuals. Through her research, she also realized that there is a need to work closely with other racialized communities as much of the push back and challenges are the same. Meenakshi hopes to work with other like-minded community builders and leaders to push the movement to help people within our community.

HERLEEN SETHI

Herleen Sethi is Public Servant, proud Dalhousie Alumni and a Mental Health Advocate. She is currently a Portfolio Advisor with the Ministry of the Attorney General and has been working with the Ontario government for the last 7 years. Through career training and experience, Herleen has managed numerous Courthouse projects that involved mental health advocacy, accessibility, and working with indigenous/minority groups. She has a degree in Management, Globalization and International Business and a graduate certificate in Human Resources Management. She is currently working on her PMP Certification.
Herleen is an active volunteer with Langer 4 Hunger, SoxBox, the Ottawa Sikh community and the One Billion Rising Campaign. Most recently, she led a sewing initiative with Langar 4 Hunger, that made and distributed over 2000 masks for local hospitals, frontline and essential workers. In the past, she has volunteered with many organizations such as Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Diabetes Association, United Way, TD South Asian Fest, Ottawa Bluesfest, CHEO and was a volunteer lifeguard with a provincial beach rescue team.
Through work and her personal surroundings, Herleen has seen the apprehension towards the topic of mental health first hand. In her career, these barriers are easier to break. Her focus is to shine light on mental health awareness and providing support to all that need it.

member 2.jpg
2 Professional Pic Nov 2020 .jpg

SANA CHAUDHRY 
MPE, MACP, RP

Sana is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Sana became a therapist because she too has dealt with challenges that prompted her to want to help others. She understands that in moments of hopelessness, it is hard to find determination. She noticed the stigma associated with mental illness, particularly in the South Asian culture. She became a therapist because she recognized that depression could be scary, anxiety can become overwhelming, and traumatic experiences can leave one feeling exhausted.

Sana hopes to accompany you on your journey, whether it is a process of self-understanding, self-exploration, managing changes in life, or simply just needing a safe space to gather your thoughts and feel empowered. Having been a client herself, and a therapist later, Sana recognizes that the process of healing can be a rewarding experience for both, the client and the therapist. She understands the importance of feeling heard, relevant, connected, and valued. Our lives can be full of meaning and purpose - we just have to find it!

JASPREET BAL

Jaspreet Bal is an experienced Commercial Banker & a Mental Health Advocate. In her professional life she is currently a Sr. Commercial Account Manager at Alterna Savings. Jaspreet specializes in real estate financing and business development at the credit union. Prior to Alterna Savings, she has spent about 8 years working for other Canadian financial institutions in Commercial Banking. Her experience spans working with a number of industries including manufacturing, hospitality, food & beverage, professional services, IT, healthcare and NPO’s. She holds anMBA from the University of Guelph, specializing in Sustainable Commerce.

 

Jaspreet is very passionate about community involvement. Currently, she is involved in numerous initiatives with the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. In the past, she has volunteered with red cross, surrey crime prevention, the RCMP and Ascend Canada. She has sat on the Board of Directors for Toronto Sikh Professionals and GroYourBiz- Markham.

 

Growing up, Jaspreet witnessed a huge stigma against mental health in the South Asian community. She is very passionate about breaking barriers and raising awareness about the importance of Mental Health.

member 1.jpg
member 5.jpg

AMARPREET VAID

Amarpreet is a Certified Personal Trainer and Mobility Specialist, seeking ways to transform our bodies to move while preserving the longevity of our joints and muscles. Just as importantly, Amarpreet is a passionate Mental Health Advocate who is inspired to create positive change in the world and within the BIPOC community. Paying it forward has been an important purpose for Amarpreet, which makes her proud to be a part of the Lotus Movement team; as well as other organizations such as The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center, World Sikh Organization and Strength and Seva -- working with health professionals from the UK and all over Canada. 

 

Amarpreet truly believes that physical and mental health go hand-in-hand; one cannot be achieved without the other. Amarpreet's practice of one-on-on private personal training is unique as she provides her clients with a safe space to open up about their mental health -- achieving goals around the primary focus of one's physical health, but their mental wellbeing, too.

 

The key component in life for Amarpree is to serve humanity. She believes it gives you purpose, which is reflected in her passion in the field of health. We make a life by what we give, and being a health expert and volunteer has given Amarpreet the opportunity to make a difference.

During these unprecedented times, Amarpreet wants to remind everyone that finding the energy to move is difficult; feeling overwhelmed with the unknown. However, she encourages everyone to take small steps to increase movement in their daily lives. Whether it’s doing some mobility, going for a walk, or doing an online fitness class. It will help your mind and body get through this difficult time. Moreover, if you are feeling mentally exhausted (or even if you aren't), speaking to a professional regularly is one of the best pieces of advice she can leave you here with.

member 5.jpg

AMARPREET VAID

Amarpreet is a Certified Personal Trainer and Mobility Specialist, seeking ways to transform our bodies to move while preserving the longevity of our joints and muscles. Just as importantly, Amarpreet is a passionate Mental Health Advocate who is inspired to create positive change in the world and within the BIPOC community. Paying it forward has been an important purpose for Amarpreet, which makes her proud to be a part of the Lotus Movement team; as well as other organizations such as The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center, World Sikh Organization and Strength and Seva -- working with health professionals from the UK and all over Canada. 

 

Amarpreet truly believes that physical and mental health go hand-in-hand; one cannot be achieved without the other. Amarpreet's practice of one-on-on private personal training is unique as she provides her clients with a safe space to open up about their mental health -- achieving goals around the primary focus of one's physical health, but their mental wellbeing, too.

 

The key component in life for Amarpree is to serve humanity. She believes it gives you purpose, which is reflected in her passion in the field of health. We make a life by what we give, and being a health expert and volunteer has given Amarpreet the opportunity to make a difference.

During these unprecedented times, Amarpreet wants to remind everyone that finding the energy to move is difficult; feeling overwhelmed with the unknown. However, she encourages everyone to take small steps to increase movement in their daily lives. Whether it’s doing some mobility, going for a walk, or doing an online fitness class. It will help your mind and body get through this difficult time. Moreover, if you are feeling mentally exhausted (or even if you aren't), speaking to a professional regularly is one of the best pieces of advice she can leave you here with.

Aalya Dhanani

Aalya is a community connector, policy professional, and digital ambassador with the Federal Public Service. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Sociology with a specialization in Feminist and Gender Studies.

 

She is the Mental Health Lead with FlexGC, a grassroots network supporting public servants while they work remotely. She is also one of the co-leads for the virtual OneTeamGov Canada Chapter, and, she Co-Founded the Anti-Racism Ambassadors Network to support efforts in the public service to dismantle systemic racism. 

 

Aalya brings her insight and experience of working across horizontal communities, including her experience working on GBA+, and mental-health training to the team. This includes her time volunteering as a crisis-line counselor for sexual assault victims and at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.

 

Her personal lived experiences as a POC in the South Asian diaspora, educational/professional background and passion and commitment to mental health advocacy led her to support The Lotus Movement.  She is a firm believer in bringing empathy to the way we work and live.

Becky Khan

My name is Becky Khan (Dipa). I have been engaged in volunteerism from an early age with the encouragement of my parents who were also engaged in philanthropic work and taught me to make an impact on those especially in marginalized communities.

Currently, my main volunteer activities include my role as a committee member of TD South Asian Festival (an annual event to bring arts and entertainment that is reflective of the South Asian Diaspora to the mainstream community), the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), and most recently The Lotus Movement.

Some of my past volunteerism were with Capital Welcomes, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan - Ottawa Chapter (CW4WAfghan) (advance education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families) and Women Helping Women – Project Purse Ottawa  (aims at providing basic essentials to women’s shelters in Ottawa), JAAGO Foundation (Dhaka, Bangladesh), among others.

I am particularly interested and invested in causes, which support poverty alleviation, women and child empowerment, gender equity, newcomer and refugee advocacy. 

I was the recipient of the Canada Bangladesh Education Trust (CBET)’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2017.

My hobbies include watching foreign/independent films, travelling, exploring different cuisines and cultures. 

BOARD ADVISORS

aleefesmail.jpg

ALEEF ESMAIL

...

As a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist, Aleef provides professional support to individuals, families, health teams and community organizations. For almost 20 years, he has worked with individuals at critical points in their lives.

Recognizing the stigma that exists within South Asian communities, mental health is largely invisible. Aleef believes in change from within. Through his practice, he works toward dismantling the cultural patterns that contribute to stigmatization. He works with people to achieve their goals and empower them to become mental health advocates themselves.

Aleef has provided treatment for severe and chronic mental illnesses, trauma, anxiety, depression, caregiver/family support and life transitions.  He fosters a safe space that is trauma-informed and anti-oppressive, recognizing the many layers of unique individual experiences.  Aleef aims to make people feel comfortable in their decision to improve their mental wellness and offers a warm, trusting, professional and accessible support.

As an artist, amateur photographer, avid traveller and music lover, Aleef believes that our passions and interests can intersect with all aspects of our lives.  Redefining our goals to better align with what we value, can be overwhelming. Aleef knows that you are the expert of you and he is committed to helping people find their vision. Aleef works with individuals and groups to better understand themselves and develop new strategies to achieve a deeper sense of fulfillment and overall wellness.

NABEEL RAHMAN

I am a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers with a Master's in Immigration and Settlement focusing on development of community resources for visible minority and marginalized communities. 

 

My career as a Counsellor, Anger Management Facilitator, Youth Worker, and Community Development Specialist equips me with a combination of non-judgmental and empathy driven focus to develop effective counselling goals. Throughout the course of my experience, I have facilitated over 1000 workshops in community engagement, intercultural understanding, leadership, employment and mental health. Working with visible minorities over 10 years in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) endows me with a unique skill set to design culturally sensitive sessions for clients.

nabeelrahman.jpg
walaafarahat.jpg

WALAA FARAHAT

Walaa Farahat is a Registered Psychotherapist with experience working in community settings as a brief therapy walk-in counsellor, trainer and long term therapist for individuals, families and children. She has extensive experiences working with refugees, newcomers and BIPOC communities. She is also the co-founder of Rubiks Counselling Services, a private practice that provides therapy, training and awareness building to the community at large.  

SAMIYAH ZAWAWI

Samiyah Zawawi, M.Ed, CCC, RP is a psychotherapist. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Counselling and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Ottawa. Samiyah provides counselling in English, Arabic and Spanish to adults and youth –in both individual and group settings. She has extensive experience working with refugees and newcomers, as well as individuals who have experienced trauma, anxiety related challenges, depression, identity loss, migration, grief, and attachment based issues. Samiyah works collaboratively with clients from diverse populations and draws from her own lived experiences and cultural understandings.

samiyahzawawi.jpg