Staff Members

Namarig Ahmed
Executive Director

Namarig Ahmed is a master’s prepared registered nurse. She is the Executive Director and co-founder of Wanasah: Mental Health Services for Black Youth, providing Black-centric, culturally affirming and holistic mental health services in the community. Namarig’s professional experience spans mental health, hospice-palliative care, homeless health, and sexual assault and domestic violence care. Namarig was raised in Regent Park which has impacted her deep understanding and passion for social justice and health equity with marginalized populations.

Shawnna Hunter
Program Manager

Shawnna Hunter is the Program Manager at Wanasah. In addition to her mental health experience, Shawnna has worked in education for two decades, allowing her to utilize her experience and skills in social services. Her passion for community service and mental health urged her to transition from the teaching profession to social services. Shawnna endeavors to advocate, empower, and drive home the importance of having equitable, accessible, and holistic mental health services. One size does not fit all, and identifying the need for mental health services for Black youth and families led her to join Wanasah.

Shayna Pascal-Webb
Administrative Assistant

Shayna is the Administrative Assistant at Wanasah. With a background in Mental Health Psychology and Human Resources Management, she combines her empathetic approach with nearly 4 years of administrative experience. Shayna is dedicated to ensuring that Black youth and their families have access to the Mental Health services they need.

Hawo Mohamed
Community Support Worker

Hawo Mohamed is Wanasah’s Community Support Worker. Referred to as Aunty Hawa as well as Mother Theresa by members of the Regent Park community, Hawa has been a resident of Regent Park for over two decades. She offers a rich lived experience and is a voice of the community that contributes to the advocacy and focus of Wanasah and the Black community. Hawa is also a member of Mothers of Peace, Safety Table run by the City of Toronto. Her decades of volunteering and advocating for members of the community have also resulted in recognition by the city of Toronto in various awards.

Shaffni Nalir
Spiritual Care Facilitator

Shaffni Nalir is the Spiritual Care Facilitator at Wanasah. He started working and volunteering in the Regent Park community at a young age, where he helped co-found various youth and spiritual care initiatives within the Regent Park Community. He has spent the past decade supporting young Black and racialized people and their families dealing with high-risk issues such as violence stemming from guns/drugs/gangs from a spiritual care lens. In addition to his spiritual care work at Wanasah, he is an Assistant Imam at the Toronto Islamic Centre and a Spiritual Care Associate at the Center for Addictions and Mental Health. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Toronto in Psychotherapy and Spirituality.

Julian Waithe
Mental Health Counsellor

Julian is Wanasah’s Clinical Lead and Mental Health Counsellor. He believes in the undeniable power of listening and acceptance when working with young people. After working in community mental health for the past ten years, he understands the broad range of mental challenges associated with working with young Black people and families. He utilizes his background in dialectical behavior therapy coupled with solution-focused and mindfulness-based approaches to help his clients achieve the best mental health outcome.
Julian’s approach is rooted in helping clients come up with their solutions and sharpening their toolkit. He helps them identify their goals by finding their personal story—where you’ve been, where you are currently, and where you want to go in the future.
Julian loves basketball, running, and most sports. He is often the one encouraging staff, community, and clients to get active!

Najma Abdi
Case Manager & Counsellor

Najma Abdi is a Case Manager and Mental Health Counsellor at Wanasah. She is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) providing individual therapy to youth and caregivers struggling with anxiety, depression, racial identity, trauma, interpersonal issues, life’s transition, and grief. Life challenges can be immense for those of us who come from racialized and diverse backgrounds. As a Black Muslim Woman, Najma is mindful of the many intersecting identities that can influence an individual’s life and incorporates this into her therapeutic approach. She practices from a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive perspective and empowers you to meet your emotional, mental, and spiritual goals using evidence-based skills. Driven by curiosity, creativity, and community, Najma’s work is rooted in the values of authentic collaboration and aims to walk beside her clients on their journey of rediscovery and reclaiming a healthier authentic self. With compassion and respect, she seeks to create a warm, safe, and non-judgmental space that facilitates self-awareness, healing, and growth.

Nedu Ejeckam
Mental Health Counsellor

Nedu Ejeckam is a Mental Health Counsellor at Wanasah. He is an MSW registered social worker. He has worked in mental health support, trauma counselling, group therapy, and activism within the Black community in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has since moved to Toronto and hopes to continue to grow his understanding of supporting communities.
He feels one of the most important things about mental health is nurturing meaningful connections. He has a strong passion for community connection, creative ways of engaging with mental health, and understanding the interaction between our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Wanasah’s strong understanding of what it means to be Black-centric in its approach to the community is what drew Nedu to join their team.

Board Members

Chair

Fatma Hassan

Fatma Hassan is a public policy expert currently working as Director of Public Policy at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.  She has worked in business, the not for profit sector and at the provincial and federal government.  As a founder of Wanasah, she is Chair of the Board since Wanasah’s incorporation in 2021.  She lives in the Downtown East area of Toronto.

Vice Chair

Dr. Leslie Shanks

Leslie is a physician trained in public health who has worked in Nunavut, northern Ontario and inner city Toronto.  Internationally she has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a variety of countries and roles. She currently practices Family Medicine in Toronto and is a founding director of Wanasah.

Treasurer

Mohamed Osman

Mohamed Osman is a CPA who currently works as Finance and Reporting Advisor at HydroOne. He has 10 years of experience working in the private sector as a financial analyst. He completed his MBA at Schulich School of Business at York University and lives in the Downtown East area of Toronto. He joined the Board as Treasurer in 2022.

Board Member

Joulaika Buchans

Joulaika is Program Manager Mental Health and Substance Use at Unison Health and Community Services. She is a Masters level registered Social Worker with over 20 years’ experience managing community mental health. Her areas of focus include individual and group psychotherapy, trauma counselling, community mental health and youth work.  In addition, she is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Faculty of Social Work at University of Toronto. She joined the Board in 2021.

Board Member

Dr Russell Goldman

Russell is a Palliative Care Consultant and Director, Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Sinai Health. He initially practiced as a Family Physician in Toronto, and then focused on providing palliative care. He joined the Board in 2021.

Board Member

Dr. Andrew Ssawe

Andrew is the Director, Integrated Primary Care Services at South Riverdale Community Health Centre. He is physician, with post graduate degrees in Public Health, Surgery and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He has board and governance experience both locally and internationally. He joined the Wanasah Board in 2022.