Govan Brown Futures Award: Aliya’s Journey
This program provides $5,000 and an internship at Govan Brown to Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) to pursue their dreams within construction. Their modest goal is to reduce barriers for underrepresented groups in the construction industry and to play a supporting role in the stories of the future generation.
Futures Award recipient Aliya Hirji grew up in a household where curiosity flourished and her imagination was the only limit to who, what, and where she could be. If she could dream it, her family instilled in her a belief that she could do it. At home in Tanzania, Aliya’s father was a key figure in motivating her to chase her dreams, and from an early age, education led the way to a world of possibilities. Aliya moved to Canada in 2016, determined to carve out a path for herself based on her passions.
Back home, she felt the options for her future were limited and Canada encouraged her to think beyond what she viewed as her bubble. Though Aliya was not entirely sure what she wanted to do professionally, she had applied and been accepted to a design foundation program. She quickly realized she had a passion and skill for manual drafting so she shifted gears, first studying Architectural Technology and then bridged to Construction Management at George Brown College. While there were cultural differences to overcome on several fronts, from the materials used in Tanzania versus North America to differences faced socially, Aliya was dedicated to her education and had a strong aversion to mediocrity.
While her conviction guided her journey, Aliya wished she had a mentor at the beginning to offer support. “I didn’t have anyone to ask the questions,” said Aliya. “My dream for my future is to be a resource to those searching for answers to questions.” From volunteering at the Hiari Orphanage in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania as well as at Canada’s oldest-running trade show (the CSC Building Expo), her commitment to giving back shines bright. “My parents never put limits on what I could achieve, and I never had reservations about entering this field because I was female or of a certain cultural background. My ambition is to support others breaking these stereotypes and being a source of support to those also on paths less travelled.”
From practical work experience to support with academic objectives, the Futures Award takes inspiration from the unique stories and lived experiences of our recipients and hopes to provide a platform upon which their vision for their future is able to grow and be supported.