Omar Morad

← Champions for Cultural Diversity 2020 Winners

If ever there was a newcomer who pitched themselves headfirst into immersing themselves into their new environment and working tirelessly to improve it, it’s Omar Morad.

Upon his arrival, Omar spoke next to no English, and was using translation apps just to make himself understood. He took level 1 English classes at the YMCA and within mere months his fierce commitment to his language development quickly served him well as he forged connections throughout the Saint John area.

Through the Skills Launch program he obtained a job placement with the Population Growth team at the City of Saint John, giving him the opportunity to welcome newcomers and model the results that can quickly come from true commitment to integration.

Part of this rapid language development came through his earnest commitment to volunteering. Omar committed more than 200 hours in his first year as a volunteer with PRUDE (Pride of Race, Unity and Dignity through Education), Saint John Newcomer Centre, City of Saint John Market, Saint John Local Immigration Partnership, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Stay and Grow Group. Making himself an ever-present contributor to multicultural events throughout the year and working to connects new residents with opportunities to help them stay and prosper in Saint John, and he also became a proud part of.

His journey had made it clear to him what a jarring and disconnecting journey it can be for international students as they arrive. So, not content to simply improve his own situation, he joined PRUDE’s Youth Empowerment Program and then, in just his second year here, founded the Union of Youth Newcomers to bring young people together to build relationships between newcomers and Canadians to encourage newcomer youth volunteerism.

Through this union he forged partnerships with a diverse group of strategic partners, thereby creating volunteering and networking opportunities for newcomers and international students to connect and integrate through gaining crucial hands-on experience. 

However, Omar also drew an important distinction between volunteering towards practical matters such as providing business opportunities and those which simply and beautifully add joy and gratitude to the community. His volunteering efforts go even further, donating time and organizing well-attended multicultural performances at both the Imperial and Kent theatres.

Inspired by the work of the first responders and healthcare professionals at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he also helped to create a video with the help of youth to say a special thank you.

He then organized a merry band of international students to spread the message of hope, joy, love, and harmony among people at Night Markets in Saint John by distributing sweets to passers-by during Christmas, creating a sense of belongingness and bonding.

Omar has drawn upon all these experiences and commitments in his new role with the YMCA of Greater Saint John as a Youth Advisor, where his volunteering efforts had already made him a very familiar face. He now provides even more individual support to newcomers as they arrive in the region to help them fall in love with the Saint John community.

He is very grateful for all the support from all the partners in Saint John including the Saint John Imperial Theatre. For his passionate commitment not just to his own integration and linguistic efforts, but moreover to his phenomenal efforts to model and guide this in the lives of hundreds of others, we are proud to name Omar a winner in the Youth category.