Kabir Shahani first pursued postsecondary studies knowing he wanted to make an impact. At first, he thought the only avenue to do so was to become a policy analyst and work in government, but he eventually found a less traditional path to creating change.
He is now the Manager of Capital Funding at the Rural Development Network’s (RDN) Sustainable Housing Initiative. This not-for-profit serves rural and remote communities by helping them navigate their housing-related needs and supports them in obtaining funding for different housing projects such as women's shelters. Not only does Kabir create an impact on a community level, but a national one as well. The RDN publishes guidebooks on developing sustainable affordable housing across Canada.
“When you work in the not-for-profit sector, you can see that you're doing something. Yes, I’m a small piece to this whole puzzle, but when a women’s shelter goes up, a few more people escape domestic violence. It’s nice to know that I had a small say in [a project like that].”
How did Kabir get to where he is today? Confidence is key, and it was instilled in him when he was still just a “kid” at Hudson.
Kabir joined Hudson College in Grade 4. After negative experiences at his previous school, he found Hudson to be a safe and supportive environment. He enjoyed the strong relationships he built with his teachers due to the small class sizes and appreciated how his teachers understood his strengths and weaknesses.
“When you have teachers who don’t treat you like a kid, it helps and prepares you for the real world. The reality is once you go into the university, you’re treated like an adult.”
Kabir’s favourite subject area in high school was social sciences. He enjoyed having engaging discussions with his teachers about the world around them: they always encouraged him to push his thinking further, and although their opinions would sometimes differ, he felt free to come to his own conclusions. These discussions helped Kabir make the most of his graduate studies at Queen’s University in Global Development.
“At a Master’s level of study, there’s a lot more thinking involved and time spent breaking apart concepts,” Kabir says, “The confidence that you get from a very young age stays with you, and you’ll have the confidence to tackle issues that can be uncomfortable or to question professors when you don’t agree with them.”
While at Queen’s, he took the initiative and expressed his interest in the environment and sustainability to his advisor. His advisor provided him with an internship opportunity at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), where he performed research on government economic response packages that targeted energy-efficient buildings throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Undoubtedly, his postsecondary studies and internship at the International Institute for Sustainable Development prepared him for his current position. Still, Kabir believes it was the confidence he developed at Hudson that set the foundation.
“Everyone is capable of more than what they think. When you’re young, a lot of people think ‘I'm not able to do this’…” Kabir says, “But when you have support from your teachers in your developing years, it becomes much easier to follow your path.”