A local constituency office has partnered with one after-school program to create an opportunity for a new Canadian youth with an interest in politics.
Rayid Mahmoud Abdullah, 18, is working with NDP MLA Adrien Sala’s office this summer doing door-to-door community outreach.
Surafel Kuchem, a team lead with The Peaceful Village program, nominated Abdullah as the program’s first intern, in part, because of his outgoing nature and enthusiasm for politics.
Kuchem moved to Canada as a young man, like Abdullah, and found that landing a job in his new community helped him settle in and learn the culture. Now, he’s hoping to create that environment for others.
So far, Abdullah’s outreach work has brought him to the doorsteps of fellow St. James residents, where he’s been learning about residents’ hopes and concerns — from crime to COVID-19 to community centres.
Abdullah moved to Canada two years ago with his family. Born in Saudi Arabia, he moved to Ethiopia when he was in Grade 9 and spent five years there before coming to Winnipeg. Abdullah describes his journey moving from one side of the world to another as a positive adventure.
"I was just enjoying it," he added.
Here, he lives with two brothers and an uncle and has family in Calgary and Toronto.
"We were looking for better opportunities and education," Abdullah said. "It’s a new country, but I’m getting used to it."
Partway through his first year as a high school student in Canada, the pandemic struck. At the end of last school year, the break in public health restrictions allowed Abdullah to familiarize himself with his peers, teachers, and the language; Abdullah is trilingual, speaking Arabic, Somali and English.
"This year was actually very good — I improved a lot and learned a lot," he said.
Abdullah is looking to build on what he’s accomplished to date through his mentorship with Sala.
"Experience is the most important thing for me ... to get some experience, get to know how things work," he said. "I am planning to take political science in university, so this is a perfect nudge for me."
Working one-on-one alongside Sala has given Abdullah the chance to pick his brain about all things politics. He describes his first week at his new job as eye-opening and "meaningful."
"The goal of the program (is) to offer the new Canadian youth in the community an opportunity to learn about Manitoba politics and community development, and, of course, to offer them employment experience that would help them to build their resume and prepare for future employment opportunities," Sala said.
"Ideally, that future would include the possibility of one day working in the legislature."
Abdullah will be entering Grade 12 at St. James Collegiate this fall and plans to keep up with The Peaceful Village program.
Katlyn Streilein is the reporter/photgrapher for The Metro.