At the age of 32, Gurbeen was diagnosed with lupus. It nearly killed her many times over. One day, she was in the hospital and felt like she had to make a choice between life or succumbing to death. She asked the nurse to take her to the hospital chapel and from the depths of her heart, she spoke to a statue of Mary and told her that if she was to remain in the body, she needed to be able to walk again. Mary listened, or her higher self listened, and the universe granted her an extension! And so the journey of healing began, from one tender moment to the next, with visions of healing and support from many forms of light and love. Inspired by the healing, she vowed to walk for Mary and 7 years later did the Camino de Santiago. She continues to walk with love today doing an annual Canada Camino.
Gurbeen Bhasin is the founder and executive director of Aangen, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that focuses on advancing food security and social justice locally and globally. A trained social worker, Gurbeen established Aangen in 2000, following in the footsteps of multiple ancestors who welcomed and supported community members facing challenges. She and her team run community service programs that help families in crisis access food, shelter and other essentials; and that provide jobs and support services to those who have faced homeless, addiction, mental illness and other barriers to sustainable employment. Aangen funds these programs by operating social enterprises that sell farm products and provide catering and cleaning services. Her primary purpose with Aangen is to foster personal empowerment and nurture communities by responding to community needs as they arise with sustainable and equitable solutions. Her professional journey has included serving as project manager of a global human rights initiative; senior analyst at the Canadian Mental Health Association; and as an entrepreneur and creator in Toronto’s independent arts sector. Gurbeen holds a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan, a master of arts degree in international relations from the University of Windsor, and a bachelor of arts in political science from York University. She is best known for her mile-wide smile, her funky shoes and her mom’s timeless life wisdom.