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Photo courtesy of United Way Ottawa

Community Builders: The many causes that motivate Ali Tejpar

By Skye Walker and United Way Ottawa on January 21, 2019

Skye Walker is one of Apt613’s correspondents at United Way Ottawa. With its Community Builder Award program, United Way Ottawa honours Ottawa’s outstanding volunteers: the organizations, partnerships, agencies, neighbourhood groups and individuals who work tirelessly to make our city a better place for everyone.


Ali Tejpar leads a double life.

By day, he’s a student at both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. By night, and day, and morning, and evening… well, all the time: he volunteers all over Ottawa, making our city a more vibrant place to live.

Photo courtesy of United Way Ottawa

Ali’s interest in civic issues came full circle at Youth Ottawa‘s November Youth Action Showcase—because it’s an event Ali participated in when he was in high school. It was here that Suzanne Pinel from the United Way Ottawa recognition team announced Ali’s Community Builder award in front of his family, young showcase participants, and the people of Youth Ottawa—all of his worlds in one place for the presentation.

Those who know him best say his deep love and respect for the city is apparent to everyone he works with, “Ali is professional, organized, and very responsible. He certainly makes my job easier,” said Youth Ottawa’s Youth Engagement Coordinator Emma Buchanan.

Youth Ottawa has been a place where Ali has been a reliable, stalwart supporter and volunteer. He is also a member of the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC), co-run by Youth Ottawa and the City of Ottawa.

“Ali is one of our most diligent and active members. As he’s an older youth on the Committee, he actively works to mentor younger members,” said Emma, “He never hesitates to complete any task asked of him efficiently and effectively.”

L to R: United Way Recognition Team member Suzanne Pinel, Community Builder Award winner Ali Tejpar, and nominator Emma Buchanan.

Ali has been a leader of many local programs and initiatives, such as the #myCanada150 Photo Exhibit. The exhibit shared inspiring stories of more than 90 Canadians from around the world with an audience of thousands during Canada 150 celebrations.

Ali’s commitment to an Ottawa that reflects diversity and takes care of its communities informed his coordination of free workshops for immigrants and newcomers on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

“Ali is one of our most diligent and active members.”

He also led Ottawa’s first Mayor for a Day event, with the goal of promoting youth engagement in municipal politics and civic issues. This local project encourages youth of all backgrounds to engage with their community and share their ideas on how to improve the city.

Ali supports his teammates in every initiative, program, and group he is part of. People who know him say his volunteerism has resulted in new opportunities for youth, new projects for the city, and new horizons for the people of Ottawa to explore.

Emma sees it every day.

“He is genuinely kind,” she says of Ali, “and he cares about making Ottawa a better place for all.”


Through research, evaluation and partnerships with community experts, United Way Ottawa identifies the root causes of the biggest social challenges facing our community, and helps find solutions that change tens of thousands of lives for the better. One hundred percent of donations stay in Ottawa to help those most in need.