Diversifying Democracy

A grid square of 4 photos - Hasan Hai  and Giselle General on top, and Patricia Johnson Castle and Dr. Mansoor Pirzada on bottom.

New Canadian, racialized and Indigenous voices deserve to be at Canada’s decision making tables.

Hosted by Hasan Hai, Giselle General, Patricia Johnson-Castle and Dr. Mansoor Pirzada discussed their experiences engaging with and running for all four levels of government, why New Canadian, racialized and Indigenous political representation is important, what it means to be a leader, and the systemic/perceived barriers that still need to be eradicated.

Date: September 8 2021 @ 7pm

Brought to you by: Equal Voice NL, Make Your Mark NL, Municipalities NL, and Association for New Canadians.

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Hasan smiles in front of a tasteful graffiti wall. He is wearing a brown cap, a grey blazer, a blue/white checkered shirt, and a glorious beard.

Hasan Hai, host


Hasan Hai is a father of 3 and an immigrant to Canada. A “Come from away” who now resides in Newfoundland & Labrador (NL), which is now his forever home. Driven to build bridges and forge connections between people of diverse backgrounds, Hasan founded Project Kindness. Its mandate is to unite people of diverse backgrounds and identities around the common goal of building a better, kinder and more engaged community.

Seeking to challenge men to move towards healthier and more inclusive expressions of masculinity, he founded the NL Beard and Moustache Club (NLBMC). Their wildly successful MerB’ys calendar, full of bearded, shirtless men dressed as mermen, has raised over 500K for a variety of local charities.

A Tedx Speaker, former provincial political candidate, Dark Elf on the Shelf and occasional shirtless MerB’y – Hasan embraces opportunities for learning, elevating the voices of marginalized communities, and leaving the world better than how he found it.

Giselle is inside a bright white building, wearing a white blazer, black top and short black straight hair

Giselle General


Giselle grew up in a small mining village in Benguet province, Philippines. She and her brother became orphans after a fatal accident killed her parents and sister. In 2007, she was sponsored to Canada and moved to Edmonton in 2008. She completed a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta School of Business, and she works at a non-profit that gives free legal help to people in poverty.

In recent years, she served on the boards of the Rio Terrace Community League, Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board, and Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. She volunteers as a columnist for the Alberta Filipino Journal and a seamstress for Boomerang Bags YEG and Edmonton Scrub Bags for Healthcare Workers. She contributes to medical causes by regularly donating blood at Canadian Blood Services and her hair for Hair Massacure, an annual Edmonton fundraiser supporting children with cancer.

Giselle is currently running for Ward Sipiwiyniwak and Edmonton West in Alberta’s municipal election.

Patricia is smiling outdoors with a black cap, long earrings, a black jacket and grey sweater

Patricia Johnson- Castle


Patricia Johnson-Castle is Inuk, and of British and German descent. She grew up as a second-generation urban Inuk in St John’s, Newfoundland, and she currently leads the policy and planning division of Nunatsiavut Government in Nain, Nunatsiavut.

Patricia studied a Bachelor of Arts African studies and philosophy at McGill University and a Master’s in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town. She is the winner of the Victoria Smith Award of Advancing the Role of Women at St John’s Regional Youth Parliament, she has been the co-tournament director and deputy-chief adjudicator for the North American Women’s Debating Championships, and her and her partner (also a woman) ranked 30th at the World Universities Debating Championship in 2017. Patricia has a long standing committed to mentoring women and gender minorities in debate spaces.

Patricia ran in the 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election, representing the NDP in Torngat Mountains.

Dr Pirzada smiles infront of a MANAL event happening in a stadium, wearing glasses, a grey shirt, with short grey hair.

Dr. Mansoor Pirzada


Dr. Mansoor Pirzada is a dermatologist who has been practicing in St. John’s for the last 22 years, local anti-racism advocate, as well as President of The Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MANAL).

Pirzada recently ran for the federal NDP nomination in St. John’s East. He said he notices the struggles of seniors and single mothers in particular, who have challenges navigating the province’s healthcare system. He has also witnessed the cultural demographic in St. John’s change.

“In the past decade or so, we have seen and we’ve made strides, not because of anything, but because the struggle of people with colour to be recognized. I think the time has come.”

Pirzada said Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have embraced the change, rallying around the Muslim community after a Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017, and said he’s grateful to be part of that community.