On Monday, November 20th I was at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to hear 12-year-old Basel Al Rashdan speak about his experience as a Syrian refugee. Basel and his family came to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where he has had a tremendous impact on his classmates, teachers and fellow neighbours.
I was honoured to stand in the House of Commons to recognize Basel for his tremendous achievement. Text below:
Mr. Speaker, yesterday was World Children’s Day. I was honoured to be invited to the United Nations in New York to witness a kid’s takeover of the proceedings.
Children from all over the world gave inspirational presentations to the UN delegates. Canada’s representative was Basel AI Rashdan.
Basel is a 12-year-old Syrian refugee who now proudly calls Canada and, more specific, Charlottetown, home. He attends St. Jean Elementary School, where he is often called “The Little Mayor”. His school projects focus on themes of empathy and fairness.
At the UN, he spoke of his journey from Syria through Jordan to Prince Edward Island in 2015, and how his initial fear and apprehension was, over time, transformed into pride, hope, optimism, and happiness.
Before he spoke, he received a phone call from the Prime Minister, wishing him good luck. Basel represented Canada well, raising his voice, our voice, for international children’s rights today and every day.
Thank you Basel. Canada is very proud of you.