Shenaaz Nanji is proud of her heritage. She was born on the island of Mombasa on the East African coast and grew up amid a fusion of cultures: Bantu-Swahili, colonial British and East Indian. She has lived in three countries on two continents, and her career has been equally varied with employment in fields as diverse as teaching, systems analysis, and business administration. Yet she returns to her roots on the African coast as both catalyst and inspiration for her successful career as a children’s author and literacy advocate.
A long-time resident of Calgary, Shenaaz is an internationally published children’s author, whose works include the critically acclaimed “Child of Dandelions.” She is also a well-known and tireless advocate for children’s literacy, espousing a firm belief that “words have the power to change lives, especially young lives.” With that strong mission statement, Shenaaz achieved a postgraduate degree in Fine Arts in Writing at Vermont College while being a mother of two. Her stories are a reflection of her experiences raising a family in Calgary in the 1980s. She began to write stories that reflect that you can be cool even if you are different. Shenaaz has seven published works and a list of awards that include being a finalist for the Governor General’s award for Children’s Literature in 2008 by Canada Council and Notable Book for a Global Society by International Reading Association in 2009. She also makes time for school presentations at Literacy Festivals in Alberta and has been active in local initiatives such as the “It’s a Crime not to Read” program with the Calgary Police and Public Library.
She has sat on juries for The Writers Union, Canada Council of Arts, and Writers Guild of Alberta. She teaches Creative Writing for adults through Chinook Learning Services. Shenaaz aspires to make a difference in the lives of children and young adults by writing one story at a time. She writes: “The way I see it, we are all made up of stories…when these stories are written and shared they allow a larger group to belong, to understand who we are, where we have come from. Our stories will last longer than we will. In the end, they will be all that will be left.”
Source: Immigrant Services Calgary