For the month of May, 2021, we at The Immigrant Life unanimously vote Ajibola (Jibs) Abitoye as our Immigrant of the month!
Ajibola (Jibs) Abitoye was born in Lagos Nigeria. In 2012, she moved to Canada to join her husband, Joshua. In the short span of nine years, she went on to become a Canadian Permanent Resident and then a citizen. But more than that she has made a name for herself in both her country of origin, Nigeria, and her country of choice, Canada. Jibs is a living proof that we all have it within us to excel and shine bright, irrespective of our creed, race, skin color or sex.
A truly remarkable feat that she accomplished within her first month of landing in Canada is to secure her first professional job here, taking an unconventional route. She drove around with her husband to tell the banks in her community that she needed a bank job! She struck gold with one of the bank managers and voila, she got her first employment!
Jibs’ advice for every immigrant is to dream big and break every barrier.
Education: Jibs studied in Nigeria and obtained a BSc. in Economics from the University of Lagos. She later got certified as a Project Management Professional. After arriving in Canada, she did a 4th Class Power Engineering course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).
Volunteering: This amazing mother of three has volunteered for various charities and projects and continues to do so, despite her tight schedule. Some of the contributions she made with her volunteer work have been on the Family and Community Support Services Board, Navy League Cadet and Fort Saskatchewan Multicultural Association as the chair.
Political Influence: Jibs believes that she’s a shy person and did not see it coming herself. But she found herself running for elected office and win the seat as the Councilor representing Fort Saskatchewan, in just 5 years of being in Canada. The support she got from residents was overwhelming. She recalls that she had just one nasty experience when she was campaigning from door to door, by a black woman who slammed the door on her face! That one lone incident wasn’t going to deter her, and she has put that behind her as she continues to impact the lives of her constituents positively. A driving force for her is the warmth of the people of Fort Saskatchewan. She says, “Saskatchewan is a community that has a soul. People rally around each other in an amazing way.”
Jibs was influenced by Hillary Clinton to get into politics in the build-up to the 2016 US election, has served in different capacities as a politician.
- She was an active member on the city’s various municipal boards.
- Council rep, Community Grants Community.
- Council rep, Capital Region Waste Minimization Advisory Committee.
- Council rep, Fort Saskatchewan Public Library Board.
- Council rep, AUMA Environmental and Sustainability Committee.
- Council rep, FCM: Finance and Intergovernmental Arrangements Committee.
- Council rep, Women in Politics Committee.
- Councilor, Fort Saskatchewan.
Business: Jibs believes that “doing is better than being perfect” and launched her fashion business when she wasn’t fully prepared as things were not in the right place. But she did. And within three months of starting her fashion line, Divineity, she had the privilege of showcasing her collection at the prestigious New York Fashion Week.
From the proceeds of her fashion business, Jibs, started a program called Turning Point Entrepreneurship Mentorship for women who have been in some form of domestic violence situation and are interested in owning their own fashion business.
Honors and Awards: Her phenomenal contributions and achievements have been trumpeted by various media. She has been featured on CTV, Global Edmonton, CBC, and different newspapers and radio stations. Jibs has continued to be honored with awards such as RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant award of 2020 and Honoree of the 2020 hundred (100) Accomplished Black Canadian Women among others.
Jibs attributes her success to God and her husband who has been her support throughout. She enjoys her life as a wife, mother (of three children who are less than 6 years), politician, businesswoman, philanthropist, fashion enthusiast and mentor. Her greatest surprise has been the extent to which her mind has expanded just within nine years of being in Canada.
Jibs’ story is not just about her. It is a story of perseverance and hard work, something that immigrants bring to building a new life. Jibs’ advice for every immigrant is to dream big and break every barrier and we hope you embrace it and never give up. It is also the story of a country, and society that opens its arms and seats for anybody with the potential to bring positive changes and that is, Canada.