by Maria Ikonen in Gatineau, Quebec
Growing up in a small village in Iran near the Caspian Sea, Maria Rasouli felt the rush of freedom as she explored her surroundings riding her bicycle.
Despite being able to provide her with great joy, the activity was seen as inappropriate for an 11-year-old girl.
Things changed when she moved to Canada at age 24. Here, she was finally able to make her dreams of exploring the world on two wheels a reality.
Today, she is the founder and operator of Escape Bicycle Tours, a company that gives tourists and adventure seekers bike tours around Ottawa.
Her company was one of three winners of an Immigrant Entrepreneur Award this year from the City of Ottawa.