Wali Shah

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Wali Shah
Wali shah.jpg
Shah speaking to students in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Born (1994-09-09) September 9, 1994 (age 24)
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Spoken Word Poet
Years active2013–present

Wali Shah (born September 9, 1994) is a Canadian speaker,[1] poet, musician and philanthropist. He has spoken most prominently on topics including bullying, mental health and social change, while creating spoken word poetry specifically tailored to his projects and engagements.[2]

In 2014, he was named by Plan Canada as one of Canada's "Top 20 Under 20".[3] He currently serves as the Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga.[4]

Early years[edit]

Shah's parents immigrated from Pakistan to Canada in 1997 when Shah was three, first settling in Toronto before moving to Mississauga, Ontario. As a result, Shah spent a number of years of his youth in Toronto before settling in Mississauga. Shah attended Cawthra Park Secondary School, his early years being turbulent and culminating in his arrest at the age of 15.[5] This served as a turning point in Shah's life at which point through mentorship and resilience he reformed his lifestyle towards facilitating change in the community.[5] In June 2018, Shah received an Honours Bachelor degree in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Toronto Mississauga.


In 2013 Shah released his first project, Rhythm & Poetry. The album spawned the single "King of the Castle" which addressed bullying as a social issue.[6] The song's music video was used by the Peel Region District School Board, and had over 100,000 views on YouTube. It was shown on MTV for WeDay 2014. Following this, Shah collaborated with the Peel Board to create a bullying prevention video titled "Change The World".[7]

On October 2, 2014, Shah was featured alongside actress-musician Selena Gomez at the 2014 We Day conference where he also freestyled with musical artist Kendrick Lamar. His music video "King of the Castle" was featured at the event and would go on to air on MTV Canada.[8]

In 2015 Shah was awarded the 3M National Student Fellowship which is presented annually to 10 student leaders across the country.[9]

In 2016, Shah was featured in Maclean's as one of the "new school of social media influencers who have figured out how to capitalize on their online, and real-world, popularity."[10] That same year, Microsoft approached Shah to create and perform a spoken word poem for its World Partner Conference in August 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.[10]

In 2017, Shah was made an ambassador of the YMCA and received the YMCA Peace Medal.[11]

Shah is also an ambassador for organizations such as Crime Stoppers International, Bell Let's Talk,[12] and United Way for which he has raised over one million dollars.[13]

On March 30, 2018, Shah was selected as District 86 Toastmasters Communication and Leadership (C&L) award recipient [14]


  1. ^ Brown, Louise (30 June 2014). "'Tell kids to dream,' says teen who turned life around". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6k8Bh33gY8
  3. ^ "City trio named Top 20 Under 20 award winners". mississauganews.com. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  4. ^ "City of Mississauga Poet Laureate". Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  5. ^ a b "Finding My Voice". Education Canada. January 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  6. ^ Wali Shah (2013-03-14), King of the Castle Official Music Video - Flo (Prod. Vinay), retrieved 2018-05-17
  7. ^ "Mixtape tackles social issues". mississauganews.com. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. ^ https://www.utoronto.ca/news/3m-national-student-fellowships-founder-mental-health-magazine-and-philanthropic-rapper
  9. ^ Mahnoor Ayub (5 October 2015). "Transitioning from a jail cell to success". The Medium.
  10. ^ a b "How students are turning social-media intuition into tuition - Macleans.ca". Macleans.ca. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  11. ^ "Meet Wali Shah, a 2017 Peace Medal Recipient". YMCA of Greater Toronto Blog. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  12. ^ "Wali Shah". letstalk.bell.ca. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  13. ^ "United Way mentor shares lessons from his own troubled youth". mississauganews.com. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  14. ^ Matthew Ogbulafor (March 30, 2018). "Wali Shah wins Toastmasters District 86 Communication and Leadership Award". The Medium.