Symposium 2018

May 5th, 2018 | 9AM-4PM
The YLT symposium was the first event that YLT launched in 2018. It provided a stage for our Arab-identifying millennials to speak about an array of topics while creating interactive groups for people to talk.


Zaina Moussa is a communication & technology graduate from the University of Toronto. At a very young age, Zaina discovered her passion for entrepreneurship after being a vendor at numerous events at just 10 years old.
Her passion for leadership and entrepreneurship has led her to start her own event planning business at the age of 19 called Zuri Curated Events. Zaina’s goal is to inspire women to pursue their goals and ambitions by curating events that showcase women in different walks of life such as entrepreneurs, artists, influencers, motivational speakers, politicians and change-makers within the community. As a result, this exposure allows for inspiration and empowerment.
Zaina is also a fashion & lifestyle blogger and because of her passion for public speaking and connecting with others, she was given the opportunity to host live broadcast shows for online clothing companies in different parts of the world. Lastly, since Zaina loves to travel and is always on the go, she has connected and built new relationships with influential people from all over the world.

Hassan Rasmi is a law-student, video-maker, and first-generation Canadian who left Egypt after its revolution to make a name for himself. Six and a half years later, he’s closer than ever. On the legal front, he is hired at a top-tier law firm on Bay Street in Toronto; and, on the video one, him and his videos have been featured in multiple news sources including Al-Jazeera and have racked up millions of views. At the age of 24, Hassan’s only getting started.
Hassan also starred and created our “Fight the Odds” video. But, more importantly, Hassan will be one of our speakers at the event. Don’t miss out on this rising star’s story, and tips, on how to make an impact doing something you love, without losing who you are.
Not sure how to repost videos but I guess that means you’ll have to follow @hrasmiofficial “We all have something to talk about. But few of us are willing to listen. That’s why we need an initiative like YLT”

Meet our awesome Facilitator Said Sidani  ✨♥️ “Yalla Let’s Talk is an ambitious project that invites us to address the unaddressed, to unpack our lived experiences, and to have honest, thoughtful, and productive discussions about issues affecting our community.“ Said Sidani is a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning at OISE, University of Toronto. He is also an Occasional Teacher with the Peel District School Board.
Before pursuing his doctorate, Said spent a year working on first generation student programming at UofT Mississauga, and was responsible for the development and coordination of initiatives that promoted mentorship and dialogue among first gen. students. The aim was to cultivate students who can excel within and beyond the classroom while also establishing a culture that values the pursuit of personal and academic goals, healthy living, and community engagement. Said continues to wrestle with his first gen. identity (he was born and raised and Lebanon but has lived in Toronto since 2004) and believes that education ought to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to meaningfully contribute to society in an environment that enables them to be creative, critical, and engaged as they become lifelong learners. Additionally, he strives to be respectful, compassionate, and understanding in all of his interactions, and wholeheartedly believes that gratitude and vulnerability allow us to reach our potential and learn more about ourselves every day.

Meet Shivanu Thiyagarajah, Co-Founder and CEO of

Why I’m participating in Yalla! Let’s Talk:
Balancing dual identities, which is the case for many kids of immigrant families, can lead to instances of feeling insecure about their Canadian identity and sense of belonging. Through open and relatable storytelling, minority communities can own their narratives, while empowering and inspiring young people.

Saif Shawaf is a Syrian Canadian. He started making Youtube Videos 5 years ago. Some of his videos include social experiments, interviews, and depictions of the “Arab life”. He started because he wanted to make a positive change in the Arab community.
Saif wanted young Arabs living in the Western world to feel proud of their roots while at the same time, embrace the culture and environment they are living in. ✨
“It is important first and foremost for myself. I need to talk about the voice I once had and why I lost it and what I need to do to revive it. I need to build back my energy and bring my purpose back to life. Through that, I hope to influence others to do the same.”

Cindos Barakat is currently a medical student at Western. She was born and raised in London, Ontario and is a 2nd generation immigrant. Outside of school Cindos is passionate about global health and mental health advocacy. As a past Executive of The Newcomer Health Project at Schulich she organized
workshops and lectures in partnership with the Cross Cultural Learners Center to educate medical
students about newcomer health. Through medical electives in Canada and Jordan she has had the
opportunity to work with and learn from at risk patient populations. She is currently a Director at
H.appi a non-profit organization that aims to destigmatize mental health in the Middle East. Last year she worked with the London H.appi team in planning a summer camp for newcomer children that aimed to improve English literacy, mental wellbeing and support acclimatization to Canadian culture. During her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, trying new
restaurants and playing sports.

Meet Mazen El-Baba, the facilitator for the mental health table discussion for YLT: “In order to break down mental health stigma and prosper as a community, we need to be able to start the discussion and to begin moving forward. I am excited to listen to the youth about their thoughts on our current challenges as a community, to discuss gaps in care, and to brainstorm initiative ideas in response to identified needs.” Mazen El-Baba, Founder and Director of H.appi, a non-profit organization that aims to de-stigmatize addiction and mental illnesses in the Middle East and Africa. Mazen will be facilitating a table discussion on mental health.
Mazen is pursuing a Doctor in Medicine degree at the University of Toronto. He is the Founder and Director of H-appi, a not-for- profit organization that aims to destigmatize addictions and mental health illnesses in the Middle East and Africa. He manages a diverse team of leaders and ensures that all campaigns are positively impacting our society.
Mazen leads an annual summer camp program for refugee children that focused on literacy, integration, and well-being. Mazen continuously expends his efforts to introduce social change by facilitating workshops on diversity, human rights, and leadership. Mazen is passionate about global health, medicine, research, and traveling.

Meet Diana Al-Dajani!
Diana is the founder and CEO of an online educational games portal, to inspire children to fall in love with Arabic. She will be facilitating a table discussion on social entrepreneurship on the day of our launch! “These type of initiatives empower people and helps them understand their potential to creating their own opportunities”

Diana has been listed in the first Global Index for Top 50 Global Makers and Shakers in EdTech for her Social Enterprise (eduTechnoz – Play to learn & Fall in Love with Arabic) that was mentioned by The London Financial Times as one of the best innovations in education in 2015, received the Excellence in eLearning Award from Global LearnTech Congress (India, Mumbai), received the EduTech Leadership Award from World Education Congress (India, Mumbai – 2017) and was selected to join WISE Accelerator Program for 2015-2016.
Diana has over ten years’ experience in online and B2B business development. As a Mowgli mentee, she realized the importance of mentoring and became involved as a mentor with the Enterprise Challenge (Bedaya Center & Shell), Roudah Center, INJAZ-Qatar, and the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) Accelerator. She has won multiple awards, and was invited to the WISE Accelerator projects workshops (WISE 2014) and to speak on a WISE panel at the EdTech Europe conference (June 2015) and on Erada (Qatar University Entrepreneurship Program). Based on her work with Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan and in Brazil, she has been selected by RSA and ECIS to join Athens Summit (Nov 2016) as one of the experts to investigate ways to improve learning outcomes for refugee children.

Aseel El-Baba is an empowered woman fueled by passion to inspire, motivate and create an impact in the wold. She holds various degrees and certifications in the Financial Planning Industry. She currently manages a portfolio of clients where she helps them with their investments and financial needs. Aseel has her own empowerment podcast called Get Real With Aseel (found on Itunes, Podbean and Youtube). Through her podcast, she publishes weekly episodes where she shares various tips and hacks for self improvement while encouraging the listeners to embrace their authenticity. Aseel is also a public speaker. She has won various competitions and participates in platforms where she shares her life lessons. Aseel is a PCAN board member, an organization that aims to increase community engagements and collaboration in the Canadian Arab Community. Her desire to challenge the status quo and her commitment to serve keeps her busy and active. She is an avid reader, traveler, explorer, challenger and changer. “I believe in the power of vulnerability and authenticity in creating meaningful dialogue that can change the world. I would like to talk about tips for having a REAL conversation”.

“Because I believe that social development and future headlines are in the hands of youth. Their key role is to renew, refresh and maintain societies and YLT conversations have to be addressed to empower Arab youth in Canada to grow, impact and contribute” –Rania Younes, Director of Programs at the Canadian Arab Institute

Rania is an advocate for new beginnings, social entrepreneur, and a strong believer in diversity, inclusion and engaging communities. She holds a Bachelor in Arts in mass communication, specializing in public relations and advertising. Her education and her ability to inspire and motivate has crafted 20 years of progressive market research and marketing experience.
For the past 7 years, social justice and economic opportunity became a key focus for Rania after being involved with various NGOs and her role as programs director at the Canadian-Arab Institute. Rania is also the chair of the of directors for the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, in addition, she is co-founder of the award-winning initiative Welcome Home TO, that works closely with local community groups, settlement agencies, sponsor groups, social innovators, elected officials and the civil service, articulating and addressing settlement and integration challenges. She also co-founder and director of a professional networking organization with a mission to empower newcomers through professional development, civic action, mentorship and networking opportunities.

Rania is a mother of three, who she is equally as involved in their education as much as she is committed to her career, and has gone beyond supporting their education, to receiving an A.M.I Diploma from the Association Montessori International, which inspired her to initiative and animate community youth programs that tackle identity, integration and social development conversations.

Meet our awesome Facilitator Hanane Benzidane ✨♥️ . “YLT is integral because Arab-Canadian youth deserve a safe, inclusive and positive space to interact, share, and have agency over making meaningful change in their community.” Hanane Benzidane is a conflict resolution expert with 10 years of experience in community outreach, worker engagement, and labour negotiations. In her current role, she acts as a Mediator for the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. Since moving to Canada at the age of 5 with her family, Hanane has been navigating the often complex waters of what it means to be a ‘multi-hyphenated’ Canadian.

Her table discussion will address the relationships Arab-Canadian youth have with themselves, with others, and with the spaces and places they inhabit. Get ready to discuss a wide range of topics including Dating and the impact of toxic taboos & judgements within both the Arab and Canadian communities.


9:30am – 10:00am Registration + Light Breakfast

10:10am – 10:20am Seating

10:20am – 10:50am Introduction and Welcome Speech

10:50am – 11:20am Key Note Speaker with Aseel El-Baba

11:20am – 11:30am Divide Groups

11:30am – 12:30pm Wordkshop #1

12:30pm – 1:15pm Lunch + Networking

1:15pm – 2:00pm Performances and Social Activities

2:00pm – 3:00pm Workshop #2

3:10pm – 3:30pm Key Note Speaker with Hassan Rasmi

3:30pm – 4:00 pm Closing Speech and Debke Dance

Supported by Ontario Creates and Canadian Arab Institute

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