The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Stephen “Buddha” Leafloor

Stephen “Buddha” Leafloor, 53, Hip-hopping Youth Worker

He brings a team of tough rappers and hip-hoppers to High Arctic communities and correctional institutes for intense five-day BluePrintForLife workshops. They reach angry, hope-drained kids through dance, encouraging singing, drumming and storytelling that gets them working together and examining their culture to promote healing.

Following intensive interviews, Leafloor has recently been made an Ashoka Fellow for Canada. Ashoka, a prestigious global organization, connects social entrepreneurs who have system-changing ideas with supportive business, academic and public sector partners. “I’m real jazzed on new approaches in mental health. Probably what gave birth to hip-hop was not a plan by social workers and the city; it was the human spirit going ‘We’re going to survive in our own community.’ That resonates everywhere in the world.”