Aatif Baskanderi grew up in a place where not many people looked like him or believed in the same things that he did. As a Muslim child of Pakistani immigrants, Newfoundland became home. His experiences growing up on “the rock”was like something out of a storybook. On this cold, isolated island in the Atlantic ocean, Aatif learned sincerity and appreciation for others that would set him up for remarkable success in life.
As an engineer with a keen interest for social justice, he embarked on a journey to connect the two. Guided by his Muslim & Newfoundlander values, this led him to studying at the London School of Economics, researching Fair Trade farmers in Palestine, working on malaria prevention in Sierra Leone, informing science policy in Canada, the UK & Europe, leading Engineers Without Borders across Canada, and currently working as an innovation specialist at a global power company in Calgary, Alberta.
While things are going well for Aatif, the same cannot be said for his home province, which is facing tumultuous economic times. In hopes of inspiring a new generation of Newfoundlanders to live their dreams, Aatif returns to Newfoundland to share his story of pluralism and tolerance.
At a time of increasing racial and religious friction across the west, Aatif’s story is a reminder of what can happen when a community welcomes newcomers with open arms.