(January 26, 2015) – Mustafa Ahmed and Danny Richmond were the winners of the inaugural Emerging Young Leaders Award that was given out by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (GTA) on Thursday, January 22 at the organization’s 10th Anniversary of its Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner.
The Emerging Young Leaders Award recognizes youth for their leadership and community service.
The elegant event was held at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel with the theme, “Partnership for Community Building and Innovation”, and featured a keynote speech by Dr. Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto.
IDI GTA also honored David Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, as well as Pathways to Education with the Excellence in Community Service Award.
“It is a time of celebration for us but it is also a time of self-examination because, as some of you who have known us for many years can testify, a lot has been done but there is still a long way to go,” said Azim Shamshiev, Executive Vice-President of the GTA’s Intercultural Dialogue Institute, in his welcoming remarks. “We are very conscious of this and we are doing our best to continue our work.”
“Building and advancing community cohesion, we are creating various platforms for interaction between individuals and communities which lies at the heart of IDI GTA activities,” added Shamshiev. “In doing this we see partnership as a critical element which help create synergies and a sense of a common goal.”
Intercultural Dialogue Institute is a non-profit organization whose aims are to promote enduring interfaith and intercultural cooperation, tolerance and dialogue.
IDI was founded in 2010 by Turkish Canadians inspired by the teachings and example of Fethullah Gulen.
Currently, the organization has 11 chapters and regional office in major cities of five Canadian provinces.
Emerging Young Leaders Award
The Honorable Tracy McCharles, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services presented Mustafa Ahmed with his award.
“Coming from Regent Park, Mustafa has been a witness to the revitalization of his neighborhood,” said Minister McCharles. “He utilizes the powers of the arts to speak and demonstrate his understanding of the intricacies of communities touching on topics such as youth empowerment, mental health, Islam, immigration and youth violence.”
Mustafa Ahmed is a 18-year-old spoken word artist, actor and emcee based in the city of Toronto.
Writing from the young age of 10, Mustafa has utilized the tool of words to help express the different things he witnesses within society.
He has opened up for artists such as Jhene Aiko and Pharaohe Monch and has performed alongside Margaret Atwood and Samantha Nutt.
Ahmed is a Free the Children youth scholar, performing for annual youth summits, and he recently completed his debut poetry EP.
“I want to thank the community of Regent Park and my family for the tough love – sometimes that love is so tough that I didn’t recognize the second word,” said Ahmed in his acceptance speech. “They helped me grow to the person that I am today.”
In introducing Danny Richmond as the recipient of his award, Dr. Harvey Schipper, former President of the Holy Blossom Temple said, “Our faiths and cultures provide the vibrancies and diversity that gives energy and purpose to the human race.”
“Danny Richmond represents our optimistic future.”
“The moment when those same faiths and cultures seem so mutually unknowing at times, and so incalculably violent at times, then it is to people like Danny that we turn and we are optimistic,” added Dr. Schipper.
Danny Richmond is the Manager of the National Campus Network at the Inspirit Foundation.
He has worked and volunteered on 5 different continents.
As a public speaker, he has spoken to over 15,000 people about social activism and global citizenship.
In 2006, Richmond was asked to accompany Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, as part of a 10 person Canadian delegation on her State Visits to five African nations.
Recently, Richmond served as Campaign Manager for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
“I still believe that, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart,” said Richmond in accepting his award. “Tonight, I recommit to that belief because this is a belief worth fighting for.”