32 Years Old
Class of 2020
“I am constantly devoting my time, energy and thinking to establish our organization as the champion for inclusivity, diversity and equity in the Wood Buffalo region and beyond.”
She has travelled the globe, worked in Malawi, United Kingdom and Sudan, came back to Canada for a new start, and now calls Fort McMurray her home; meet the woman on a mission. Nanase Tonda is the Executive Director for Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta.
“My life in general is quite unique, dynamic and forever-evolving. I was born in Japan, partially raised in France, and travelled internationally from an early age,” she said.
Nanase is leading an organization that aligns with her passions and her lifelong purpose. As a woman of colour, she feels the sense of purpose by working in the community, advocating for women’s rights and promoting gender equality, as well as advocating for systemic violence for the past decade.
“Girls Inc. IS my community involvement. I am constantly devoting my time, energy and thinking to establish our organization as the champion for inclusivity, diversity and equity in the Wood Buffalo region and beyond,” she said.
But it doesn’t stop there as she gives back to the community in many ways.
“I support the Special Olympics Wood Buffalo, curbside water distribution for the flood relief, casino shifts for other community organizations, especially ones that are remotely located and having a hard time recruiting volunteers, such as Vegreville Agricultural Society. When I have time – or make the time, I join hot yoga and salsa dance lessons,” she said.
She admits that the work is hard in virtual times but she’s masterminding plans with her team to continue mentoring the youth in the community.
“How do we address these deepened inequalities and increasing virtual fatigue? I have mobilized the team and available resources to pilot and scale-up Girls Inc. home-based programming, a combination of virtual facilitation, program kits delivery, curbside visits and direct check-ins (to allow for access to Girls Inc. Experience for those who cannot or choose not to participate virtually for various layers of barriers),” she explained.
“As a result, the highest number of girls in operational history has been recorded while we navigate through this challenge. It is the collective effort that resulted in this impact, which is another 2020 lesson.”
Nanase also shared how she has adapted to distance learning through her personal life as her husband is based in Northern Ontario, working as a respiratory therapist, and said their marriage is proof for positive future outcomes.
“I met my Pakistani-Canadian lifelong partner 10 years ago and got married to him four years ago. I worked internationally while continuing on this journey of long-distance marriage. At least we are in the same country now and making it work,” she said. “He has always respected and committed to my decisions over the past decade. So, it’s my turn now to do the same.”