When Naheed Nenshi created history as the first Muslim mayor of a major city, Calgary in 2010, he knew his job was just starting. He continues to deliver on his promise of a “modern city” with the focus on infrastructure making life easier for the city dwellers. But he understands that much needs to be done to make Calgary more appealing to new immigrants.
Born in Canada, he witnessed his parents’ struggle as immigrants and believes that creating a diverse workplace is as much about policy as it is about taking the initiative to ensure that policies are paired with practice when it comes to providing a place for new immigrants. “We do hire a lot of people of color but we don’t seem to be promoting them,” he says suggesting that each organization look closely into where those well-intentioned initiatives fall short.
Keep Fighting. Keep Dreaming. Keep Going.
He believes that while Canada and Calgary can take pride in being multicultural, effective measures must be adopted to ensure that no racist prejudice or practice casts a shadow on opening up opportunities for immigrants.
The pandemic has put the spotlight on how important immigrants are for Canada as they are the essential workers. “There is an entire class of people who get up early in the morning and go to work to take care of our senior citizens,” he says, recognizing that a majority of them don’t have the luxury to work from home. He urges all immigrants to persevere, help build connections and pull one another up. “Keep fighting. Keep dreaming. Keep going.”
Naheed Nenshi is Calgary’s 36th Mayor. He shared this perspective at Immigrant Life’s Thrive Conference on Oct 25, 2020 where he honored Canadian immigrants by spending his 10th year anniversary with them and rounding up the inaugural annual conference.