On Arrival and Belonging — with Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan

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Author: Johal, Am
Author: Paige Smith
Author: Kathy Feng
Author: Alex Abahmed
Born in Malaysia and raised in India, Sobhana has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and a postgraduate degree in Social Work. Sobhana immigrated to Canada in 1995 and completed her doctoral coursework and candidacy exams in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria (UVic) and also taught the undergraduate Child Welfare Specialization Course at UVic. Sobhana worked with the Government of British Columbia serving in various front line and senior management positions for almost two decades. Sobhana worked with federal and provincial governments to address complex social issues, including poverty, child abuse and domestic violence. In 2017, Sobhana joined Simon Fraser University (SFU) as Associate Vice President, External Relations. Sobhana engages with all levels of government and diverse organizations and communities to strengthen relationships and partnerships. In addition, Sobhana is very involved with EDI and reconciliation initiatives at SFU. In 2019, Sobhana was the recipient of the Women Economic Forum’s ‘Woman of the Decade Award’ for championing education. Sobhana is passionate about the pursuit of peace in all spheres of life.
When Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan landed in Vancouver 25 years ago from Malaysia, she was told her foreign credentials would make it hard to find employment as a social worker and was encouraged to apply for minimum wage jobs. In this episode, Sobhana is in conversation with Am Johal about the joy of finding community in a new place — and the barriers to employment she experienced as a newcomer to Canada.Sobhana tells stories from her journey as a social worker and public servant, sharing how her dedication to service and relationship-building led her to her current role as SFU’s Associate Vice-President, External Relations, where she liaises with governments and communities to help facilitate social inclusion and reconciliation initiatives at the university.
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