BY EMILY SINGH
Some people are natural born leaders. Charismatic and determined, they seek to evoke change and create a positive difference in their community. For Kwesi Johnson, being an active leader in the Scarborough community is something that came second nature to him. As someone who is always thinking towards the future, Johnson is running for Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 21, Scarborough-Rouge River. The by-election will be taking place on January 25, 2016 where without a doubt the community that Johnson has dedicated himself to will come together and make the right choice.
On Saturday the community gathered inside Burrows Hall Community Center to lend their support as Johnson officially launched his campaign. The turnout was nothing short of amazing and the energy was electric, especially when former politician Dr. Alvin Curling took to the stage. As a former Member of Provincial Parliament for twenty years, Curling is no stranger to the hard work and dedication needed to be an effective leader. Without hesitation, Curling has thrown his unwavering support behind Johnson as he embarks on his journey to further creating change in the Scarborough-Rough River community.
But who exactly is Kwesi Johnson? Born in Guyana and raised in Jamaica, Johnson immigrated to Canada with his family in 1995. Johnson resided in the Malvern community for years, where it became evident to him that something needed to be done to curb the violence and help the young people of this struggling community. As an active member of the community, he stepped up to the plate and served as a basketball and soccer coach. Aside from being so heavily involved in the community, Johnson pursued an educational path that has allowed him to touch the lives of those around him. Johnson graduated from Centennial College, Ryerson University and the University of Toronto where he received his Masters degree.
I caught up with Johnson after the launch to find out more about what motivated him to run for TDSB trustee.
“I think that right now there is such a great opportunity in terms of all the shifts that is happening in the TDSB and what is happening in terms of the government and the education portfolio in particular, “says Johnson “ It’s a great opportunity for someone who knows the community and believes in the community and has the ability to connect community, community services and the education system together in ward 21. It is something I have thought about for a long time and I am pleased I have the opportunity to do it right now.”
In speaking with Johnson it was evident that not only was he proud to be representing the Scarborough community, he has also managed to stay close to his Caribbean roots.
“The Guyanese South Asian community is falling far behind in terms of young people feeling welcomed and safe in the school system. It was disheartening for me to see that, because as a proud Guyanese any individual who is falling behind and not being able to achieve their full potential is disheartening,” says Johnson. It was remarkable to see that Johnson was still able to refer to Guyana as home as he reminisced on a family trip he took there a few years ago.
The campaign launch was nothing short of a success as supporters took turns speaking about Johnson and the tremendous work he has done thus far in the community. However, it was Johnson’s speech that made it clear that he will in fact be our next TDSB trustee in the ward 21, Scarborough-Rough River.
In his moving speech, Johnson acknowledges the Indigenous communities and our great ancestors for their sacrifices and contributions towards the future. In addiction to those individuals he is also grateful towards his friends and family who have been supportive throughout all his endeavors thus far.
On January 25, 2016 those living within the postal code boundaries of M1B, M1X, M1V and M1S can all vote for Kwesi Johnson as the next TDSB trustee. Advance polling will also be taking place on January 16, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on January 17, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We would like to thank Kwesi for all that he has done for the community and wish him nothing but success along his journey to become the next TDSB school trustee in ward 21.