Leslie Zurek-Silvestri was born to Polish immigrant parents who came to Canada in the 1960’s with nothing but a suitcase and a few dollars in their pockets. She and her family were involved in building the Polish community in Mississauga and are still active members of the Polish Church in Mississauga. She attended the first Polish school, Polish scouts and folk dance lessons in the Mississauga South area as a child and youth. Being the child of immigrants in Mississauga Leslie learned firsthand what it took to be a part of the multicultural mosaic in our city and the importance of working together. She can relate to the those that have a language barrier as she entered school not knowing any English.
Leslie’s desire to help those struggling with poverty grew while working the local grocery store; Food City in Cooksville. For many years she interacted with families that had a hard time on social assistance. She had an admiration for owner of Oshawa Foods for his support of those with differing abilities and his initiative to hire people with disabilities in the grocery store for employment and independence.
Her need to serve the public continued when she entered nursing school and graduated and began her career as a nurse. She first worked in maternal care and then on a medical/surgical floor serving those vulnerable. Leslie was one of the key advocates in 2004 working on the campaign to dispel the stigma associated with Mental Health. This would later open the doors for the medical community and education to embrace the need for our future generations.
Leslie is a well sought after healthcare professional, and adjudicator offering support and advocacy to individuals in Ontario including educational institutions while respecting privacy and integrity. Attention to detail and reflective practice are a key part of her delivery of service and knowledge. A leader in sourcing solutions to healthcare issues Leslie believes in accessibility for all. Leslie takes pride in participating in the social and educational landscape of Mississauga through her community engagement and work.
When COVID hit in 2020 Leslie pulled together the Masks for all Campaign which had over 100 men and women putting together nonmedical masks and distributed over 60000 to retirement homes and marginalized groups in Peel and GTAA under Fashion Circuit Series. She nominated them all for the COVID heroes award from the city of Mississauga.
Leslie has an extensive trusted record in the non-profit sector and in community leadership and education. She has contributed as chair and director positions for organizations: The United Way, Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Hats on for Awareness, Breakfast with Santa Foundation and Fashion Circuit Series, Mississauga Italfest, Polish Days, Art Gallery of Mississauga. Leslie holds the position of director at Special Education Advisory committee of Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board and consults with the Ministry of Education providing feedback to support best practices.
She has appeared on national and local television programs including Marilyn Denis Show, CHCH, Global News. Leslie is the founder of Onward and Upward a speaker conference bringing people together to educate and share their knowledge in an inclusive platform on current trends like women in politics, financial literacy. Her “Fight the Cold” coat drive continues to be one of the largest drives for local children and families that experience hardship in Peel. She supports the work of the Rotary club, Mississauga Board of Trade, and Mississauga Arts Council. Leslie is a member of the Legion and participates in their projects.
Leslie Zurek-Silvestri has been a part of the vibrant fabric of the community of Mississauga for over 40 years. A Humanitarian, her accolades include many awards of distinction including: Heritage Mississauga award 2019, Civic Recognition award from the City of Mississauga 2017, Canada-Poland Chamber of Commerce award 2016, Brilliant Minded Women Award 2015 and recognition both from the federal and provincial government in her work in community and advocacy for Mental Health.
The time has arrived for Leslie to enter council and advocate for the citizens of ward 7 with Hazel McCallion’s encouragement. In 2019 Leslie spearheaded a team and created the Hazel McCallion Museum which invited the public to get a glimpse over 100 years of memories of Hazel. This led to a book created called Breaking Barriers over a 100 years that is being shared in the community and the local school libraries. Leslie takes pride in citizen engagement and never misses an opportunity to support.
On October 24 2022, Vote for Leslie Zurek-Silvestri for ward 7.