For the first time in the history of Whitby, Ontario, a Pakistani-born, Muslim Canadian woman serves as elected Councillor at the Town Council. Maleeha Shahid took her oath of office at the Town Council early December, becoming the first immigrant to be elected there. Also, for the first time in history, the Council sees women Councillors dominating, serving with Mayor Don Mitchell.
Such is the transforming face of Canada, and especially Durham Region, that we’re seeing diversity penetrate the leadership Establishment, bringing fresh new ideas to the table.
Maleeha’s exalted role in the community stems from her astonishing heart for community service. Her election as Councillor flows out of her warmth, hospitality, and kindness for the marginalized communities of Durham Region.
We at the Millionaire Mindset magazine visited Maleeha and her husband, Shahid Choudry, at their sprawling home in Whitby, to interview her about her meteoric rise to political office. We found them to be warm, generous, welcoming, and full of deep love and passion for their role in Canada. They love their neighbors, cherish service to the community, and reach out with open arms to Canadians of all walks of life.
They’ve hosted politicians and elected officials to their home for dinners and other social events, served on Boards of charities, contributed financial aid to organizations in need of funds. They show admirable regard for the community.
The Shahid family is a model Canadian success story, humble, community-minded, service-oriented, and full of gratitude for their lives as Canadians.
Vibrant, vivacious, full of vitality, Maleeha, 37, got to know her community as a Real Estate Agent. “I was born in Pakistan and came to Canada 16 years ago after marrying my husband, Shahid, who was already a Canadian. In my role as Real Estate Agent, I met a lot of people, and always got involved in the community,” Maleeha said.
She’s a mother to three children, Shumyle, 13, Ayaan, 8, and Amir, 2, and credits Shahid and her children for her success, as the family forms a solid structure and foundation for her community engagement.
In fact, Shahid himself is quite well-known across Ontario and engages politicians and leaders in the non-profit and business communities with ease. So he played a big role in her campaign for election, serving as campaign manager, advisor, and helper. Shahid said he fully supports and endorses Maleeha’s community leadership, lauding her with praise for her heart of service.
Maleeha said she brings a positive mindset to life, and she’s committed to serving on Council with that same attitude, one of a positive business mindset that ushers her municipality to be a place of business and job creation. “I am bringing the knowledge I learned in my career, and in networking with the constituency in my Ward, and my community involvement, to the Council. I will give a lot to Whitby,” she said.
When one delves into the upbringing and family background of Maleeha, it’s not surprising that she has become a model Canadian citizen. For in Pakistan, her family is an iconic business dynasty. “My family in Pakistan is celebrating 100 years in business, as leaders in the steel, textiles, and ship scrapping industries,” she said. Her family operates one of Pakistan’s biggest ship-breaking port, at Karachi, Pakistan. This is where old ships are retired, broken up and sold off for scrap and junk.
With such an interesting background, Maleeha brings to her role at the Council a wealth of latent human capital, showcasing the beauty of Canada to attract the best brains from around the world. Her family pioneered those industries in Pakistan, starting back in colonial times when Pakistan was a part of India under British rule. That pioneering spirit thrives in her today.
Maleeha said she is a “big advocate for education as a way to build a successful life, and especially for girls and women to be educated. I am happy that equalized education is coming to Pakistan. I am a big supporter of that”.
As a Councillor in Whitby, Maleeha wants to “make sure residents are taken care of, that businesses choose here as an investment destination, and to help as much as possible the four brand new Ward Councillors to achieve our goals of representing our Wards with excellence”.
Maleeha brings a great heart for service to the job of Councillor, noting that “we open our home to our neighbors, and invite them to visit us to celebrate holidays, including Christmas. In fact, we’ve met everybody in our community. We love Canada. Canada gave us freedom, and a place for our dreams to be realized. Even in Pakistan, my public service would not be as celebrated as it is here in Canada. It is so easy for me to serve here, and to rise as a leader. Canada earned our loyalty, and our children identify as Canadians, with full Canadian values”.
The family started life in Canada with a one-bedroom apartment, worked hard, and grew fast. Today, they own a sprawling home, a custom-built house that took years to complete, as they saved and built, on a wide acreage plot of well-treed land, in Whitby. It’s a life they celebrate, with much gratitude. “In Canada, as a woman, I can do anything, with full freedom of thought,” Maleeha said. With such a mindset, she has become the first person of diversity to serve on the Town Council, with everybody embracing her new role.