Back to Canada 150 main page

Meet our Outstanding Canadians: Ermias Nagatu



What started out ten years ago as a 40-hour high school requirement for Ermias Nagatu quickly became a hobby of giving back to the community – often in leadership roles. After directly experiencing support from Pathways to Education during high school, Ermias sprung into action, giving over 600 hours over the past five years as a mentor and role model to the local youth he tutors each week in the Regent Park community.

Ermias says his passions lie in helping individuals realize their potential, and improving their physical and mental health. He encourages others to use physical activity as a means of expression, himself turning to cycling and weightlifting to release negative feelings. Following his graduation from York University in Kinesiology and Health Science (BSc), Ermias took what he learned from his studies and was a key player in establishing a youth-driven health promotion project in partnership with Toronto Public Health and the Regent Park Community Health Centre (Youth Working Around Vaping & E-Cigarettes – Youth WAVE). As a leader of this project, Ermias promotes physical activity, provides health and media literacy workshops, and gives youth the opportunity to develop leadership in the community. Through this role, and as a long-term volunteer with organizations like the Bridgepoint Hospital and Pathways to Education, among others, he has been an inspiration with an unwavering commitment to community engagement and volunteerism. He’s also a volunteer at the Regent Park Community Health Centre, is co-founder of Exercise Is Medicine Canada at York University, and sits as a member on the Pathways to Education National Alumni Advisory Committee as well as the Bridgepoint Hospital Healthy Workplace Ambassador Committee.

Ermias recently extended his passion for cycling and volunteering by co-founding the RideTOInspire campaign, a community fundraiser supporting Pathways to Education youth across Canada. “I see my volunteer work with Pathways as a drop in the bucket compared to what I have received,” says Ermias. This summer, he raised over $2,500 by cycling 2,000 km across Southeastern Canada from Halifax to Toronto. Ermias is a source of pride for Regent Park as well as Pathways alumni, students, volunteers, and staff in Toronto and across the country. Ermias is seen as an individual who has affected a great deal of positive change in the world and has empowered many other youth to do the same.