2024 Community Leadership Award Winner: Sayyidah Jaffer


From left to right: De gauche à droite : Gino Leblanc (OFFA Director), Sayyidah Jaffer (recipient), Daniel Wang (Treasurer, Fondation des francophones de la C.-B.) and part of the Award Selection Committee: Sophie Audet (Director, Conseil jeunesse francophone de la C.-B.).


For the past 3 years, the Fondation des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique and the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA) have presented the Community Leadership Award. This award recognizes and rewards the commitment of a student or recent SFU graduate to the community through their dedication to promoting the French language and Francophonie in British Columbia.

This year's jury, composed of university and community members, chose Sayyidah Jaffer, a fourth-year student in SFU's French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs. The awards ceremony took place on March 1st, during the Printemps de la Francophonie’s opening symposium.

Sayyidah's commitment to the French-speaking community has been diverse and consistent, as a representative of the FCP  within the Political Science Student Union, as an associate editor of the Gadfly  Undergraduate Journal and as an executive member of the French Conversation Club.

Sayyidah has also been involved with the Az-Zahraa Islamic Center for nearly a decade, participating in many of the centre's activities, including its food bank and Sunday school. She also coordinated the Centre's participation in Richmond's annual ‘open house’ community event.

Sayyidah's exceptional leadership qualities and skills are recognized far beyond the province, as she is in the running for the McCall MacBain Scholarships. These scholarships are Canada's largest leadership awards for professional and master's programs.

Sayyidah Jaffer is one of 91 finalists from around the world. Each finalist was chosen for their personality, community involvement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic excellence and intellectual curiosity.

Sayyidah hopes to earn a master's degree in anthropology or sociology at McGill. "As part of my graduate studies, I'm interested in the history and contemporary intersections of immigration, social movements and health. I hope to study these issues alongside the large-scale media discourse and political language that often dehumanizes immigrant and refugee communities."

Congratulations Sayyidah! The diversity and consistency of your commitment to the university community at SFU and beyond make you an inspiring and remarkable leader!

Q&A with Sayyidah Jaffer:

What does it mean to you to receive the Community Leadership Award? 

For me, the Community Leadership Award represents the culmination of many things. It represents the wonderful years I've spent at SFU and the different communities I've been able to discover and contribute to. It represents the sense of unity we've been able to develop within and between the different organizations on campus. It also represents leadership and sometimes stepping out of my comfort zone to take on roles and responsibilities with which I was previously unfamiliar. As I complete my final term at SFU, this award gives me the support and encouragement to continue using the skills I've acquired to give back to the community during my graduate studies and beyond.   

As a community leader, what drives you the most? 

Having grown up in a community from a young age, I quickly realized the importance of surrounding myself with like-minded people who motivate and encourage me to give back. I've often felt that community service wasn't a choice, but rather an obligation. If we are endowed with the privilege and ability to create inclusive and safe spaces for people, then we must do it. For me, it's mostly the work of inspiring people—including my family, friends, advisors, teachers, and colleagues—that drives me to get involved in my communities as much as possible. 

Do you have an anecdote or memory to share? 

As part of two different organizations — the French Conversation Club and the Political Science Student Association — I was able to organize day trips to Victoria. Although these trips were organized with different objectives, they were both extremely memorable days as part of my undergraduate activities. I was pleased to be able to accompany a group of students, visit the BC Legislature, meet other francophone students, attend a MPP Question Period and interact with politicians. Of course, the ferry crossing is also a highlight of these trips! 

You're one of 91 finalists for the McCall MacBain Fellowships. Can you tell us about your journey to get here?  

I completely understand the expression "It's the journey that counts, not the destination." I say that because my journey to being named a finalist has been an extremely rewarding and enriching process. After submitting my written application and receiving the nomination from Simon Fraser University, I was invited to participate in the regional interviews. There, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with other candidates between interviews. A few weeks later, I was honoured and delighted to receive a phone call inviting me to participate in the final interviews.  

How do you feel about being a finalist? 

I'm very grateful and honoured to have been selected as a finalist. Over the past few weeks, as finalists, we've had many sessions to prepare for our trip to Montreal and the final interviews, which makes the experience very real and exciting. I'm very grateful for the wonderful encounters I've already had the pleasure of making, and I can't wait to meet the other finalists in person very soon!   

Do you have any current projects in the Francophone community that you'd like to talk about? 

I recently attended a public meeting at Simon Fraser University's Student Resource Centre. I was able to meet and talk with several community organizers who are working hard to promote social and environmental justice and to defend marginalized groups. I'm committed to working with Contract Workers Justice to defend workers' rights on campus and advocate for fairer working conditions. In addition, I plan to get involved in organizing events to protect the rights and support migrants (workers and students) in Canada, especially in connection with "Migrant Spring". 

Interview by Vanessa Groult, director of la Fondation des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, on March 13, 2024 

For more information, contact:

Anne Marie Gagné
Manager, Communication, Marketing and Engagement
Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA)