Sima was born in Abadan, Iran and grew up in Saddeh, Jamshid-Abad, the mostly Arab-populated and the poorest neighbourhood in Abadan. It was a community with a high rate of unemployment, illiteracy and gang-related incidents.
Sima was the eldest of nine children. From childhood, she learned the value and power of education. In the mid-80s she immigrated to Canada.