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Born in Manama, Bahrain |

While many aspects of Bahrain are ‘thriving’, for expatriates like Niya, there are few opportunities for post-secondary education. Since her parents didn’t want their children living away from ‘home’ for university, they decided to move the whole family to Toronto.  Niya appreciates the intellectual, political, social and economic independence she has here. As she says: “Elsewhere in the world, I may not have had…the freedom to pursue my degree in Sexual Diversity Studies [nor would I] have been able to move out of my parents’ home [before marriage].” She says being a homeowner at 25, in a city that is “so full of life” gives her a feeling of accomplishment and happiness. “This city brings so many people with so many different ways of seeing the world together that each meeting, each friendship, each relationship, teaches me things about myself and about the world.”  Currently Niya works as the Senior Communications Planner (Digital Media) for the Ontario Public Service.

Toronto as Home

Niya wanted to be photographed at St. George Campus at the University of Toronto, a place she refers to as her “first home in the city”. On this campus she developed her sense of self, ability to think critically and strategically, her passion for active, involved citizenship, her voice as a leader, and the lens through which she sees the world. She also made some of her closest friends here. The University of Toronto continues to nurture her whether it’s academically through lectures and art, professionally through wonderful opportunities for alumni to connect with each other, or personally through its quiet spaces that allow for deep thinking.

Connection with the Past

Niya is holding her paternal grandmother’s book of hand written recipes. As she explains: “It has handwritten samples from three generations of women who have left their home countries in search of a better life.” It contains recipes from a diasporic community that is rapidly being assimilated and is facing the loss of its language, traditions and food. According to Niya, “there are few Sindhi’s in the world who can read or write the script, or speak the language – while the food may take a little longer to die out thanks to recipe books like this one.” Food has been something that has always brought her family together with her and her parents even jointly owning a restaurant for five years.

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