#ImmigrationMatters in Vancouver, British Columbia - Inspiring the next generation of athletes

#ImmigrationMatters in Vancouver, British Columbia

Knowing her true potential as a Paralympic athlete, Maryam came to Canada determined to wear the maple leaf and inspire younger athletes.

Inspiring the next generation of athletes

March 3, 2022


Inspiring the next generation of athletes

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Transcript: “Immigration Matters in Vancouver British Columbia”

Video length: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

Inspiring string music plays throughout.

Aerial view of a cloudy Vancouver.

Text displays: “Immigration Matters in Vancouver, British Columbia”

Maryam walks in a park.

Text displays: “Maryam Salehizadeh, Team Canada Goalball Paralympian”

Maryam: My name is Maryam Salehizadeh. I’m a Paralympian. I arrived in Canada in December 2016, and when I left Iran, my goal was to compete in Tokyo 2020.

In a gym, Maryam holds a goalball and smiles. Maryam is shown in the park again. Back in the gym, she adjusts her ponytail. She throws the ball across the gym.

Maryam: Being visually impaired, I couldn’t use my vision to learn English. And, you know, it was really hard. But when I make a decision, I won’t give up. It doesn’t matter whatever comes in my way, I just go for it.

Maryam steps into a workout gym. Guided by her trainer, she does leg exercises.

Text displays: “Nestor Navasero, Maryam’s personal trainer”

Nestor spots Maryam as she lifts heavy weights.

Nestor: It was very easy for me to train Maryam because she’s so driven. She never takes things for granted. She makes the most of every training session. She’s very serious about her craft, but very humble and a lot of fun.

Maryam does a series of exercises: jump ropes, stationary bicycle, stretching. She shares a laugh with Nestor.

Nestor: To really set a goal of what she wants—she’s inspiring, to be honest.

As Maryam stretches her shoulders, we can see a tattoo on her left shoulder: the Canadian maple leaf and the Paralympic symbol.

Maryam prepares soup in her kitchen.

Gary: Maryam’s always had this need to give back and contribute to the community. I think it’s second nature to her.

Text displays: “Gary Desterke, Maryam’s friend”

Maryam welcomes Gary into her home.

Gary: She volunteers at a peer support group. Her spirit is always one of encouraging.

Maryam and a friend are walking and talking while holding coffees. They enter a park. Maryam shows her friend something on her phone.

Gary: She mentors the younger athletes. It’s in her to share what she has, and I think that she is a model just by her fierce independence and her team spirit.

At goalball practice, Maryam pats a younger teammate on the back. She talks to another teammate and smiles. Maryam runs with the ball and launches it across the room.

Back at the park, Maryam is enjoying the tranquility among the trees.

Maryam: I felt a peace and freedom as soon as I landed in Vancouver.

We are back in Maryam’s kitchen. She walks out to her backyard with her guests.

They all sit down at a picnic table for lunch.

Maryam: Here, people look at you as a human, and not your disability, which is really, really, really valuable for me.

The group raises their glasses for a toast at the table.

Maryam: One of the things that excites me about the future is being on a podium in the Paralympics. And I know I have the power to help my team to go there.

Back at the gym, Maryam is getting ready for her goalball practice to begin. She is crouched down, waiting for the ball. As the ball lands from across the court, she blocks it with her legs.

Maryam throws the ball across the room once more. The opposing team gets ready to defend by extending their legs.

A series of still images from the Paralympic Games are displayed: in her red Team Canada uniform, Maryam is in a ball-throwing stance. In the last photo, Maryam raises a hand.

Maryam: In Tokyo—I can’t find the proper word to express my feeling—it was amazing. I’m so proud of wearing the maple leaf and playing for Canada.

The scene fades to black.

Text displays: “Immigrants enrich our communities.”

The text fades away.

Text displays: “Share your story #immigrationmatters; Facebook: @CitCanada; Twitter: @CitImmCanada; Instagram: @CitImmCanada”

The text fades away.

Text displays: “Canada.ca/immigration-matters

The text fades away.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature is shown followed by the Canada wordmark.

Immigration profile: Vancouver, British Columbia

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in the Vancouver area represent 41% of the population.
  • More than 58% of immigrants who came to the Vancouver area between 1980 and 2016 were economic immigrants, while nearly a third (31%) were sponsored by family and 9% were refugees.
  • There are more than 2,800 immigrants working as athletes, coaches, officials and referees throughout the country.

Did you know?

  • A total of 128 athletes were named to the Tokyo 2020 Canadian Paralympic Team, with 21 (16%) from British Columbia.

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