University District’s Noteworthy in the Northwest series focuses on dynamic and compelling individuals and organizations from around Calgary’s Northwest, offering insights across a range of topics and each contributing to describing the spirit, opportunities, and legacy of the Northwest.
We sat down with Dr. Aaliya Sabir, general pediatrician at neighbouring Alberta Children’s Hospital and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, to learn more about her life as a native Northwest Calgarian, and how she chose to enter into pediatrics. As a frontline worker, we are excited to profile her, and also chat about the importance of self-care, her entrepreneurial spirit, and hidden and well-known gems to be enjoyed in communities around University District!
Though I was born in Iran, my family, long-term residents of Calgary, moved back to the city when I was an infant, so I feel like I was born and raised here. Growing up in Varsity, I’ve only ever known NW Calgary; it’s my comfort zone.
The area is tied to many fond childhood memories: Market Mall as the go-to place during my adolescence, the pathways nearby for family walks, and growing up with friends down the street. Though many probably have similar experiences of their upbringing, there’s always personal reminders that make each memory just that more special.
Many people in this city seem to have a preference of which quadrant to live in, because there’s familiarity and concept of what home and community means. I’ve never strayed far from Varsity with each move to a new home because it’s easy to visit family, commute less for work, and enjoy the surrounding neighbourhoods that I know.
NW has such a beautiful spirit because of its diversity. When describing what makes a community, there has always been a connection between people here, with the energy and understanding of each other from different cultural backgrounds.
Also being close to the University of Calgary (UCalgary), there’s almost a nurturing, academic aspect. Many people have great pride to study or have studied at the university. Since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from UCalgary, and now as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, I feel like I’m investing back into my academic community.
Education took me away from Calgary for a while for my medical degree at the University of Alberta and then residency in the United States, but life came back full circle to NW Calgary when I finished my final year of residency here again.
Specializing in general pediatrics felt right because it opens my heart to help sick children and their families. Part of my belief is that you have to give back to everyone as much as you can. I’ve been part of the team at Alberta Children’s Hospital for 12 years now and it’s been such an enriching journey.
With a high number of patients, with high complexities and acuities, it can be difficult to step back and take a breather. Frontline workers experience so many challenges throughout the day, especially during this difficult time.
You need to check in with yourself mentally to not feel overwhelmed. It’s also a matter of being mindful of our energy levels: if we’re taking a break to eat, and giving our bodies a break from the thousands of steps a day. I find that these small reminders are really important for our physical and mental well-being.
Coming home and winding down is also important for that personal well-being and health because we need to practice self-care to be our best for our patients. Sometimes the experience of the workday, whether positive or negative, can make a lasting impact, and enjoying some me-time is a good way of relaxing and reflecting.
Whether it’s indulging in favourite foods or dedicating a night to TV show binges, I think we’re all in a place where it’s okay to unwind and have an opportunity to re-evaluate, reset and look at the positives in life.
Part of my self-care has actually been self-discovery as an entrepreneur and to explore my creative side. Calgary has such an entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s a great time in my life where I can make an even greater impact.
For a creative outlet, which can be considered my hobby, I’ve launched my own clothing business called Admiral Clothing & Accessories Inc, with the premise to support overall wellness. I found inspiration from my own personal need to be comfortable in athletic wear. The material needed to be breathable and ethically-made which I see as a unique combination in the marketplace.
I started the company motivated by passion, to find a solution. After all, I can’t be the only one experiencing this.
Through the process of design, I’ve realized that I wanted to limit the use of plastic in the clothing. This means finding an alternative to buttons and zippers. The result is an innovative fastener system I’ve invented and is in the process of being patented. The uses of the fastener system goes far beyond creating clothing; it’s an exciting experience and has helped me understand myself as an innovator. Currently, I’m finalizing the women’s line before launching.
I have also been working on the social innovation side where my mission statement is ‘to alleviate suffering and support wellness worldwide’. I have always felt in my heart that I was meant to help the world. Growing up and living in NW Calgary are important parts of that journey because of my experiences and the people who have had an impact in my life.
Long-term, I’d like to expand the business to explore global initiatives and social innovation, particularly to benefit others who are not as fortunate. Working at the Alberta Children’s Hospital has prepared me for this new creative venture, and it’s an opportunity to adapt and change for the better.
For me, time off is well spent at Edworthy Park! Just a short distance away from U/D and the Alberta Children’s Hospital, I love being next to the Bow River, surrounded by the natural environment. The landscape is unique to Calgary and seems to have a calming effect.
Better than that, Bowmont Park along 53rd Street NW (near Bowness and Montgomery) is nostalgic for me with the best family memories, just wandering along the boardwalk trail. It is one of the most scenic parks and I don’t think many Calgarians know about it.
This hidden gem is great because of the natural waterfall deep within the park, and a lookout to the Bow River Valley. With hiking trails and beautiful pathways around, it’s basically in our backyard! There are absolutely beautiful places in the NW to enjoy.
*Photo courtesy of Tourism Calgary
The utility of the community, where it’s easy for people to access some great local restaurants and businesses. Even for workers at the hospital, there’s a functionality that is needed because we’re in walking distance of the neighbourhood.
It’s been incredible to watch the community grow, changing the NW landscape and adding to the vibrancy of the area. What a difference from when I grew up to attending UCalgary, and now. I can’t wait to see the end result and how it all comes together.
Clever Signature Daycare is coming to U/D! Clever Signature offers a wide variety of options including evening and weekend care, ideal for professionals that live and work in and near our community. Unique to U/D, they will also offer overnight child care. Take a look here for more information on upcoming retailers.
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.