2023 Young Adult Honourees
Sisters Shania and Anya Bhopa founded the nonprofit organization, Canadian Courage Project (CCP). The CCP strives to promote the health of at-risk youth with animal companions across the Greater Toronto Area. Shania is a current Ph.D. student in Global Health, and Anya is an animal sciences student. Together they have built and inspired a team of volunteers and employees to deliver empowering workshops at youth shelters and libraries, set up educational animal service booths, and assemble wellness kits to support youths and their pets. The CCP is a recent recipient of the Queens Jubilee Community Impact Medal and was featured in Forbes for their success in receiving the Aerie Real Changemaker Grant provided by the Aerie Real Foundation™, an organization that works to build confidence in women, foster an inclusive community, and protect our planet to make the world a better place for all. The CCP has expanded outside of the GTA and is building chapters in places like Ottawa and Nova Scotia.
Their most memorable experiences have been facilitating shelter workshops with youth and animal companions; seeing the tremendous effect and the cooperative action that is fostered through their efforts is like no other. Not only do these moments represent their passion for curriculum, human connection, and collaboration, they also exemplify the importance of co-design workshop development, and the feedback they receive from the youth in shelters is integrated into their programming.
Their motto is that no child’s health should be left up to chance, and everyone deserves to have an animal companion by their side to optimize their well-being. Shania and Anya say they wouldn't be living this purposeful life without the support of their own animal companions who have enhanced their mental health in so many ways and shaped the way they see the world.
Connecting with students in classrooms across Ontario about making a change in our community is one of their biggest and most unexpected rewards. The countless bright young people they get to meet and interact with when they are invited into classrooms across the GTA to share their story forever inspire them. Anya and Shania have created a sustainable development goal workshop to amplify this mission, promote citizenship amongst their community, and strive for impact and connection.
The Canadian Courage Project started in the spirit of collective action after the pandemic. It was a long-time goal for Anya and Shania, and they’re amazed they got to build a team, scale to the level they have so far, and still continue to partner with shelters in the area weekly. They are so grateful for the support and kindness of their wonderful town of Stouffville and its community for prioritizing the health of youth and animal companions across Ontario.