Hongning Zhao

I am happily married and have two lovely boys. I have experience as an instrumentation engineer, which let me understand the perspective of oil and gas industry. Two years of working with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society widened my view and helped me understand the differences and similarity between immigrants. At present, I'm the vice president of Fort McMurray Chess Club because my sons are really into chess. Being connected with kids and parents is my pleasure and an honour. The passion driving me to help is right inside of our community-----diversity, love and understanding. We learn from each other. We lift up each other. Together, we can make the community and the world better.



The Immigrant Advisory Table (IAT) is a committee of community members who were born outside of Canada that represent a diversity of Wood Buffalo Region and work together strategically.


Drawing on the varied experience and expertise of its members, the IAT:

  • Advises on newcomer needs, gaps and barriers;

  • Provides insight on Local Immigration Partnership activities and community integration needs from the perspective of individuals with lived experience of having moved to Canada;

  • Shares information between the Local Immigration Partnership and community groups, including ethno-cultural associations where possible;

  • Promotes the work and values of the Newcomer Interagency Network through community channels and networks;

  • Serves as a champion of welcoming and inclusive communities.

Meet the Immigrant Advisory Table members:

Ednalyn Bacagan

I am Ednalyn Bacagan and I am from the Philippines. I work as Digital Marketing Strategist for Artus360 Design Studio. I've been living in Fort Mcmurray for 4 years and I fell in love with the diversity and peacefulness of this region. I am a mom of two teens and a wife to one. And although it's hard to balance work and family life, I always make it a point to always spend time with my family, love myself and be kind to others. My mantra in life is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.


I am passionate about learning, sharing and trying to make a change in the world, which is why I joined the IAT. I am always looking for ways on how I can be of service to the community without eating much of my time and this I believe is a great way to start. It may sound cliché but I am truly dreaming that one day we can have respect to one another, unity and world peace.

Funky Banjoko

My name is Funky Banjoko. I am passionate about helping others navigate the way to success. I am particularly interested in helping “newcomers” - immigrants connect to the available resources in the City of Fort McMurray and Canada – the world’s number 1 country by my rating.


I am passionate about sharing my Fort McMurray story. It has been an awesome experience for me. Raising my two kids in Fort McMurray, I would want to mentor others to see the good in the land. Be resilient, accept others, accept and face challenges with the attitude of a winner and focus on the positive part. I see myself as a Fort McMurray ambassador, despite the cold I love it here. We have done well as a family. Our decision to move here has paid off despite all the challenges.


I will like to see a Fort McMurray that is better presented to the world, recovers from economic downturn and 2016 wildfires - more welcoming to immigrants. I am looking forward to a Fort McMurray with stores and other resources like any typical city  – Winners, Cosco, Old Navy, Laura, Seniors’ Homes, Low income apartments, hospital fully equipped/ staffed….People live here!

Martin Byaruhanga

I was born and bred on the valleys of Kabale western Uganda, moved to Canada and in 2016 came to Fort McMurray a place I am very proud to call Home with my lovely wife Brenda and our daughter Ashley.

I am a social planner with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), a dedicated economics professional with experience in research and data analysis.


I am passionate about the socio-economic well being of people and am proud to share my experience and expertise of economics, research, data analysis, and social planning to alleviate socio-economic issues in the region especially in the world of immigrants.


I have lived experience as an immigrant and person who grew up in developing economy, with the realization that there are a lot of people suffering and living in unprecedented state, I am committed to raising awareness and an understanding of the issues related to standards of living and well-being in the community. I welcomed the opportunity to join the Immigration Advisory Table (IAT) as a Board Member for this cause.

Priya Mary Jacob

Hello My names Priya Mary Jacob. I am a BSc nursing student and a certified Health Care Aide who has just finished first year of nursing school. I am 21 years old and I love to learn! I am a volunteer at the YMCA and Alberta health services.


I am passionate about becoming a voice to the voiceless, and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to pursue nursing.  I Hope I can be of value to our community even if it's in a small way. I am so happy and proud be an IAT member and work as part of a team.

Tatiana Marcu

My name is Tatiana. I am originally from Moldova (country in Eastern Europe). In the year 2014 we relocated to Canada, Fort McMurray and I have called this amazing place home ever since. I speak Russian and Romanian and feel like I can connect with people.


It takes a lot of resilience and focus to endure the challenges of immigration, learning new language and general adjustment in Canada; and I much appreciate all support I received from community and friends when I moved to Canada. I like to experience new cultures, meet new friends and try new food. I also love the optimism, excitement and adventurous spirit that inspires all of us to continue improving our life here, in Fort McMurray. In my time free I like to hike and explore beautiful trails we have in Fort McMurray. I am excited to be at IAT and bring my energy and experience to support immigrants in their journey here.

Ramazan Nassery

My name is Ramazan Nassery. I have established my life and family in Fort McMurray and live here since 2008. I worked with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia for four years assisting asylum seekers and refugees with their claims and resettlement to a third country. I also has extensive experience with Canada’s private sponsorship of refugees program. Furthermore, I worked with the YMCA of Northern Alberta Wood Buffalo in Fort McMurray for nine years, where I served initially as Program Coordinator of the temporary foreign worker program and then run the YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services in the same capacity. I was also an active member of the board of directors of the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo and Community Network for a total of three years.


I am passionate about social justice and strive to identify gaps in social policies.  I advocate for a responsive programs and services which help to improve the quality of life for people in the Regional Municipality of Wood buffalo (RMWB).

Jane Njoroge

My name is Jane Njoroge. I am originally from Kenya, East Africa. I came to Canada in June 2013, and I have been living in Fort McMurray since November 2014.


I am a social worker by profession, currently working at the YMCA of Northern Alberta as a wellness worker. My family and I have been blessed in this city. I love this community because of its uniqueness and diversity.


I love to see a thriving community hence, I volunteer actively with Emergency Social Services, Social Justice, Social Action and an honoured member of Coalitions Creating Equity Wood Buffalo. I am really honoured to be a member of IAT. One of the hats I wear as a social worker is that of Advocate and sitting at IAT will give me an opportunity to be a voice in helping to identify human rights issues in our community and barriers to addressing these issues, which hinder immigrants’ equal access to services and resources. I am committed to supporting education initiatives to ensure a more inclusive community.  I appreciate the endless efforts that are being put in place to ensure more inclusivity and equity. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in FMM.

Amber Razak

I am Amber Razak and I am very passionate about helping others. It took a deep look inside to realize that. Helping is a very broad term and can be anything; from helping someone search for a job or giving a hand to some one in need, even directing someone towards resources they might find beneficial, I feel one thing that helps me make a bond is the when I feel I have been successful in putting a smile on someone’s face. Our paths may never cross again but the feeling that someone out there is better today because of the help they received yesterday, is an accomplished goal, in my mind.

Hilina Alemu Tadesse

My name is Hilina Alemu Tadesse. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I came to Canada in May 2011. However, I started living in Fort McMurray since 2013. I have been working in the communications, customer service and finance fields over the last decade while also volunteering with different organizations. I hold a BA Degree in Journalism from Addis Ababa University, in addition to an Office Administration Certificate from Keyano College.


At times, we tend to forget where we came from, perhaps even how we go to the point we have gotten to today. But I still remember the feeling of starting fresh and new when I first arrived here. There were pleasant times as there were tough times; until you get some guidance, some help, someone to be there and tell you – welcome and you go this!


I was fortunate enough to access the services and resources available to new comers. Grateful too!

Since I have seen how that has changed my path, I have been passionate about volunteering and helping newcomers to feel they are valued and accepted in this multicultural community. I am passionate about easing newcomers’ challenges of knowing or/and accessing services - so they transition to life in Canada as smoothly as possible.

Email: lip@northernalberta.ymca.ca | Tel: 587-275-9357

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