GoFundMe reveals its most generous people in Canada this year.
If there’s one thing Canadians are known for — besides maple syrup and hockey — it's kindness. In these parts, people hold the door open for strangers and apologize even when it's unnecessary. But the good-hearted nature doesn't stop there.
Across the country, there are everyday heroes, and it's about time they get some recognition.
That's why GoFundMe is spotlighting the top 10 Canadians who donated to or organized the most fundraisers on the crowdfunding platform in 2021. These are people who went above and beyond to contribute to causes they care about and help others within their communities.
From a Calgary radio host who competes in extreme challenges to raise money for important causes to an Ottawan who simply donates the price of her morning coffee every time she sees a new cause, these Great White North residents are super inspiring.
These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Felicity Paid Off Her Student Loans, Now She's Helping Others Do The Same
After saying goodbye to the last of her student loans, Felicity Rhone, a software developer, decided to help fellow residents of Victoria, B.C., pay off their own debts.
She shared that she regularly scrolls the GoFundMe website and donates to locals in her community who need a little financial help. She deeply cares about environmental and social causes.
In true kind-soul fashion, Felicity believes that it's fair to distribute any extra income. "It's about showing love and making life a bit better for the people around you,” she said.
Olalere Believes It's Better To Give Than Receive
If Canadian kindness culture had a human form, it would probably look a lot like Olalere Adepoju. Taught from an early age that it's better to give than to receive, the Calgary local actively contributes to causes for youth education, emergency benefits and memorial support.
The business owner also donates 10% of his profits from his clothing brand to individuals in need.
Olalere’s goal is to leave life knowing that he did his best to give to others. An easy way to do that, he notes, is through donating. Donating also allows him to step beyond his own experience: “It shows us individual peoples’ struggles [...] and helps us be more empathetic.”
Jennifer Gives Back With Her Heart On Her Sleeve
Whether it was donating to frontline workers or patients, Jennifer Ng knew that a little bit of support would make a difference to families going through hard times.
“It’s important to be kind because the world is not so kind to everybody,” Jennifer said. “Just doing little things — that can change someone’s world.”
Since her donations are going right to the families, Jennifer feels personally connected to their stories, which is the most rewarding part for her. Because of this, the Toronto-based real estate agent continuously checks for donor updates.
Matilda Donates The Price Of A Coffee Every Time She Sees A New Cause
Matilda Bakare was feeling overwhelmed by the number of people and causes that needed support in her community. But then she got some pretty good advice from a friend: every time you see a new cause, donate the price of coffee.
From Nigeria and currently living in Ottawa, Matilda works in healthcare IT and is a podcaster on the side. She typically donates to health-related fundraisers. She believes in the importance of kindness and empathy.
"It's important because it's kind of what makes us human. We all need people," Matilda said. She encourages all Canadians to give back and has found that getting into the habit of donating has made it easier for her to spread positivity.
Robbie Competes In Extreme Challenges To Raise Money For Good Causes
Courtesy of Patirck Puff
Robbie is an Edmonton-based radio personality and producer who competes in extreme challenges with his team to raise money for important causes, like the MS Society of Canada, while involving the station's listeners.
From fast food challenges to walking from Edmonton to Calgary, the tasks are risky and rewarding.
"Over the years it seemed to be a good way to raise money," Robbie told Narcity. "It blows us away just how generous people can be, and every time we do something with GoFundMe, it's just something that people latch onto and embrace."
Charlene Found Connection Through Giving Back
Charlene Boyce believes that the pandemic has taught many Canadians the value of human connection.
Working in the communications industry for a non-profit organization, Charlene's time on social media jumped when stay-at-home orders were enforced. When she saw many Twitter users starting fundraisers, she took the chance to become a part of something bigger than just her "cold basement office."
Charlene gravitates towards donating to social causes, including Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ2S+ rights, noting that "we have to make space to be kind to one another to collaborate and overcome these challenges."
Marie-Claire Seeks To Support Survivors Of Domestic Violence
When Marie-Claire Hamel saw protests surrounding femicide in Quebec, she knew she wanted to get involved.
The MBA student and part-time construction project manager realized there were limited ways to help in person during the pandemic, so she took to the internet and organized a GoFundMe for SOS Violence Conjugale.
She also shaved her head to challenge the typical feminine image while especially speaking to the real courage of domestic abuse survivors.
"A lot of my friends told me how brave I was to shave my hair off, but I couldn't help thinking that actually being courageous in life is being brave enough to speak up. To be willing to find help — that’s courageous,” Marie-Claire told Narcity. “It takes enormous strength to say, ‘I need help.’”
Kim Creates Safe Spaces For The Black Community
Montrealer Kim Ninkuru saw the need for joyful, safe spaces for the Black community — specifically the trans and queer Black community. So, the performance artist created the "For Black People To Have Fun" GoFundMe cookout in Toronto, which evolved into a year-long fundraiser that received tremendous support.
"It’s so gratifying to know that I created a space where people can get together in the spirit of community and giving back and sharing. That really makes me smile," Kim told Narcity.
Kim was able to redistribute funds directly to her community. Through this initiative, she was able to cover some costs related to the struggles of being a Black trans woman (such as getting access to hormones, surgeries and mental health resources, and even paying monthly rent).
"I really believe in giving resources to marginalized people and letting them take care of themselves as they see fit,” she said. “Because I fundamentally believe that marginalized people are the ones who know best how to remove themselves from that kind of oppression and overcome those obstacles.”
Ihsan Gives Back To Immigrant Families
Ihsan Tayeb is a first-generation Canadian who resides in Ottawa, and she believes that Canadian culture is rooted in generosity. She empathizes with the hardships of immigrant families and wants to give back to those who have had a similar journey to her own.
"You can't save everyone, but just helping one person is what we’re here for," Ihsan told Narcity.
Ihsan, GoFundMe’s highest donor in 2021, was on a mission this year to help as many people as possible — and she succeeded. She gives to emergency funds, hoping that those in difficult situations know that there are neighbours who are there to help.
Nancy Carves Out Little Pathways Of Kindness
When Nancy Rutherford's daughter was diagnosed with cancer, the sudden medical expenses were more than Nancy felt she could take on, but she leaned on her Toronto community for support. Now, Nancy's paying it forward.
She finds a "warm, good feeling" in giving back by donating to those in need of short-term financial support, whether that's a car payment, a bill or pet medical expenses.
Nancy believes that generosity creates more goodness in the world. “Kindness means to give [...] with an open heart, without judging. The reason is irrelevant. To give with no expectation, or control or judgment."
These stories are a heartwarming reminder that it's easy to give back, no matter your means.
If you're looking to spread kindness and feel more connected to your local community this holiday season, find a cause that resonates with you or organize a fundraiser for someone close to your heart.
Every little bit makes a difference, and everyone deserves to experience the joy of the season. Even if you only donate the price of a coffee, you can show the world just how kind Canadians can be.