Mehran Aazamifard has been fighting for human and women’s rights since she was a teenager growing up in Iran. It’s a cause she was even imprisoned for. “I spent over two years as a political prisoner in Iran, as a result of my advocacy for woman’s rights, and more broadly, freedom of speech for all individuals in Iranian society,” she says.

But this didn’t stop Aazamifard for fighting for what she believes in; if anything, it inspired her to live a life of advocacy and giving back, just now she’s doing it in Canada.

“I fled Iran shortly after my release from prison, along with my husband and my infant son,” she says. They spent two years as refugees in Turkey before coming to Canada in 1991. It felt unfamiliar to Aazamifard, who had little knowledge of English language or Western culture. “But I have never forgotten where I came from and have always been grateful to Canada.”

That gratitude inspired her to give back to her adopted country and community of Port Moody, B.C., while establishing her own career in finance — she’s now a business banking advisor with Envision Financial — and raising three children.

“I have been working in the community since arriving in Canada, helping new immigrants and refugees settling in their new home. As a new immigrant myself, I understood firsthand what a tough road they were facing,” she says, adding that being recognized as a Women’s Influencer Award winner in 2017 for her community work was humbling.  “It made me very proud of myself and the work I have done in the community.”

Aazamifard, who also assists local food banks, and has served as a board member for the TriCities Iranian Cultural Society and the Iranian Immigrant and Refugee Society of B.C., adds: “I am appreciative and grateful for all my achievements, even the smallest ones. I feel all my dreams have come true!” she says. “My dreams were simple dreams. To live in a society where I can practice my freedom and where I don’t live in fear! And here I am in this place where everything is achievable!”

To other women who may be inspired by her story, she adds: “Never give up of any dreams and any wishes you have, not matter how small or how big they are. Appreciate every minute of this beautiful place and make it as a happy place for yourself!