Markham Honouree 2022
Shanta Sundarason moved from Singapore to Markham, Ontario, with her husband Masood and three children, in 2010. Her husband and children are Canadian, but with no other family or friends, the first two years were quite lonely. She knew she had to commit herself to getting to know this country better.
Some of her discoveries were lovely ones—great wine country not too far away, wonderful outdoor trails and lakes—but she also discovered a great deal of sadness. She could not comprehend that so many, such as Canada’s First Nations, our Indigenous brothers and sisters, did not have clean drinking water. As a result, she started a social justice group to educate and empower our younger generation to be the encouraging change the world needs. Engaging others in this way is something Shanta has done for many years. Seeing “her kids,” as she affectionately calls them, blossom into positive change makers working on their own initiatives is what drives her.
During the pandemic, Shanta was inspired by so many sweet souls wanting to make a positive impact in any way they could. Sometimes they just needed someone to provide a little direction. Shanta is and continues to be that person, in 2022 bringing together hundreds of amazing men and women who are currently working on the Canadian Library initiative. This is an art installation that will be a memorial to missing and murdered Indigenous women and children in Canada. It will start difficult conversations, create awareness, showcase the beautiful culture that many of us are unaware of, help with healing, and hopefully bring about true reconciliation.
Another important project Shanta founded during the pandemic was Pink Cars, an initiative to help seniors across York Region and Toronto. Within days, Pink Cars grew from a three-member team into a forty-member army to help over 10,000 vulnerable individuals get vaccinated. Support came from so many selfless individuals in the community. The Finlayson Group and Stouffville Toyota stepped in without ever meeting Shanta and helped get the effort rolling across the region. Being able to help the most vulnerable is the greatest community effort Shanta feels she’ll ever participate in.
Shanta considers it a great honour to be bestowed the Governor General’s Award for her volunteer work. What motivates her most, though, are the extraordinary actions of others that flow from her ongoing leadership and dedication.
It’s been a long two years since Shanta has seen her missed and much-loved family who live in the UK and Singapore.
Taking time away is her only refuge and it helps her recharge and top up the love in her heart so she can continue to do what fulfils her in Canada. She often gets inspired on her journeys and returns home filled with new ideas.