In 2018 and at 21 years of age, Omar Morad arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick. Before this move, he lived in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon where he escaped war, violence, and economic hardship. Once he felt settled, Omar was happy and felt “safe". These feelings impelled him to become active in his community and contribute meaningfully.
Omar has become much more than an active community member: he has chosen to become a youth leader. Upon his arrival, Omar embarked on a journey to learn more about his new community, and how he could contribute in a meaningful way. Drawing on his own experience a refugee and an immigrant to Canada, he knew that greater community support was needed for youth like himself. In 2019, Omar therefore founded the Union of Youth Newcomers (UOYN) of Saint John.
As a partner of Equitas’ Speaking Rights program, which promotes youth engagement through Community Action Projects (CAPs), the UOYN participates in youth–led projects that present issue youth face in their communities. Throughout the program, Equitas provides training on incorporating a human rights–based approach where they offer key resources such as coaching and funding for youth.
Together, Omar and Equitas strive for similar experiences for youth who participate and come together through this union. Their shared vision is one that will bring about positive change for youth immigrants. For Omar, he has seen firsthand how community participation leads to action and how there is a ripple effect.
He knows that it “encourages and inspires other youth to participate and grow in their individual leadership".
Omar says that this engagement and leadership is particularly important for newcomer youth, who will then create significant change that is needed to support future youth immigrants. Omar’s vision is a collective approach that will be stronger and more impactful through the meaningful collaboration of Equitas, UOYN and immigrant youth – creating change not only today, but for future generations of young immigrants.