Full name… Zakaria Hassan Abdulle
I was born in …Toronto, Canada
And I currently live in … Dixon Road which is in North Etobicoke. Dixon is a loving community filled with hard-working people. I enjoy living here because it represents the rich history of African Canadians like Somali’s, who initially settled in this community. Dixon is also a much more diverse community than people assume. Think beyond the apartment buildings – and you will find middle-class suburban families. The potential to build social cohesion amongst diverse communities is exactly what Etobicoke should be about.
I speak… Somali, a bit of Arabic and French
Diverse leadership is important because…it’s so much more than just a simple head count. I firmly believe the benefits of diverse leadership are maximized when partnering it with inclusion. Having diverse leaders without fostering a culture of inclusion to promote participation simply doesn’t work. And if our region wants to continue to take advantage of our diverse perspectives, then diverse leadership and inclusion must become common practice.
The issues in our region that keep me up at night are… opportunities for young people and quality public education. My knee-jerk response was going to be violence because what is currently going on in the Northwest Region of Toronto. However, I think it’s crucial to examine the role of public policy. Historically funding/resources are poured into communities as Band-Aid solutions to structural problems. So now we have a two-tiered public education system that’s sending the wrong message to youth. As a young father, I am now forced to ask myself whether advocating for a better public education also means enrolling my daughter in such a setting. For our region, a more equal public education system is also critical to the health of our democracy.
My greatest city-building accomplishment to date is … using the knowledge gained from education on leadership to teach 16 boys and girls about leadership this past summer at a Mosque in Rexdale. Many of the youth had never thought about the term leadership, or what it meant to them. And being able to empower them during a two-month crash course reminded me to check my own privileges. If we aren’t using our privileges to empower others – then we may need to rethink how we perceive our civic duty.
One thing I do to ensure I continue to grow and develop as a leader is… READ! Development as a leader comes from constantly realizing how little you know. I also try to leverage a learned talent realized during my journey thus far. Everyone is unique in that they have a specific gift to offer the world. Luckily, spending time mining for this talent has helped me grow tremendously.
To me, an inclusive city/region/GTHA looks like… a community where everyone is both encouraged and given opportunities to be involved in civic life. It takes certain privileges to find time to be involved – and that’s exactly the point I’d like to make. Too often those who can offer so much don’t have the right supports to allow them to do so. Inclusion is no easy feat but it is so important to ensure that we protect the social vitality of a region by empowering those coming from the most marginalized communities.