Metro Morning

Torontonian of the year nominee: Kanwar Saini

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning is on the lookout for the Torontonian of the year. Kanwar Saini, a speech language pathologist who uses his skills to help newcomers, is one of our nominees.

Saini used his training as a speech language pathologist to help newcomers to Canada

'It makes me as a human being feel more human,' says Kanwar Saini when asked why he starts so many projects to help out in the city. He's used his training as a speech language pathologist to help newcomers with communication, and runs a hot food and clothing giveaway in Moss Park. (Submitted by Kanwar Saini)

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning went looking for the Torontonian of the year.

The call was out for Toronto residents who are making a positive impact in their communities.

Nominee: Kanwar Saini

Kanwar Saini is a speech language pathologist who used his skills to help newcomers to Canada learn to communicate.

During the influx of newcomers from Syria last year, he put together a response team to work with families and answer questions from parents about language acquisition.

"Childhood speech and language is a pretty big deal, especially when you're dealing with psychological or even physical trauma," he said on Metro Morning.

Saini doesn't stop there. The response team is just one of the many projects he has on the go.

Take BuddyUpTO, a network he created that links Torontonians who might not feel safe out on their own with another person or group to do things with.

He was inspired to start BuddyUpTO, "because of that spark of violence towards people of colour, women who wear headscarves, men in turbans, trans folk, women in general," he said.

This way, he said, people who feel unsafe have someone with whom they can do errands or attend social functions.  

Saini also helps run a hot food and clothing giveaway in Moss Park and provides speech and language services to parents at the 519, a community centre at Church Street and Wellesley Street East.

He said the fuel for his projects comes from his own life.

"I'm a gay male of colour who wears a turban. You would think this is the nexus of all things great in Toronto. Massive gay community, big Punjabi Sikh population. But from my perspective we have a lot of work to do still," he said.

"Where I see there is a need to support or share, that's what I like to do."

With files from Metro Morning

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