Niusha Soltanpour is a young Kurdish female who is actively involved with the Kurdish Community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was born to native Kurdish parents on April 14, 1990 in the city of Sanandaj or Seni, Kurdistan. The great work and contributions put forward by her has inspired other young youths to participate in more Kurdish events and seminars. She demonstrates leadership, authenticity, and is constantly motivated to connect with others, and learn from her peers. She has grown to develop a strong connections within the community with a sense of purpose by pursuing her goals which align with her personal values. This has allowed her to look beyond the status quo to what is possible. In a society where women are seen less dominant to man, Niusha has demonstrated that it is possible to stand tall and as a result, she is recognized by the community as a worthy person.
I have had the pleasure of working with her on several projects throughout the years and she is one of my dearest friends. Our relationship goes back to our childhood days in our home town of London, Ontario, Canada. I am honoured to be interviewing her for my first segment of interviewing Kurds in the diaspora on their contributions in the community.
When did you come to Canada? And why did you leave Kurdistan?
I left Kurdistan at the age of 6. My parents were politically involved for some time and eventually their frustration with life under that regime lead them to leave.
How would you describe yourself?
That’s a tough question. I feel like a different person everyday. But ultimately, I’d say I’m a positive thinking person and I try to make the best of everything.
What inspires you?
Our ability to change and mold ourselves and our surroundings.
Do you consider yourself successful?
I can’t really say. All I know is that I like where I am and where I’m headed.
What is your greatest strength?
Ability to connect with people.
Who is your role model, and why?
My mom. I’m always amazed by her determination and how much she’s accomplished. Like many immigrant women, she’s been through a lot and yet she’s always picked herself up and continued to fight.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself as a business owner. I’m in the immigration field so ultimately I’d like to set up my own consultancy here in Canada or abroad.
Where did you go to college? What degrees do you have? What, if any, further degrees or certifications are you pursuing?
I’m a political science graduate from Western University. I’ve always been interested in immigration and refugee law and have intended to pursue it as a career. I spent the past year in Malaysia working for a migration firm as well as volunteering with the UNHCR resettlement unit in Kuala Lumpur. It was through this experience that I decided to enroll in the Immigration Consulting certificate program at Humber. I’m currently back in Toronto working full time at an immigration firm while working towards becoming a licensed consultant.
Can you tell me about your involvement with the Kurdish community in Toronto, Canada?
I’ve been involved with the Kurdish community for a number of years now. I was active with the Kurdish student’s associations in London and Toronto and it eventually led me to join the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, which is a non-profit, non-partisan cultural organization in the GTA. I started volunteering in 2012 and helped with organizing various social and cultural programs for the community. I was elected to sit on the Executive Committee this past year and have since served as an administrator.
Do you have any future plans to return and work in Kurdistan? if so, where do you see yourself working?
I would love to go back and work in Kurdistan. However, I think it’ll take me some time to be able to do that. I think once I’ve established myself and have the capacity to contribute to that area, I will definitely do my best to be of service to our people back home. There isn’t a lot of opportunity at present in Rojhelat (East Kurdistan), known to western world as Iranian Kurdistan so I would probably divert my attention to the Bashur region (Southern Kurdistan) under the KRG.
What have been challenges or obstacles you have encounter thus far as a Kurdish female growing up in Canadian society?
I think adding Kurdish identity to the female, visible minority status definitely adds to the challenge! I say this because of the lack of awareness in Canadian society about the Kurds. It can be frustrating when the place you grow up in and the people around you have no knowledge or understanding of who you are and where you’re from. But I guess, it just means that we have to take it upon ourselves to educate those who don’t know about us and bring our peoples struggle to light.