Samuel Getachew Enters City Council Race In Toronto

Above: Samuel Getachew faces two challengers in the fall 2010
election for City Council seat in Toronto to represent E. Ward 43.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010.

New York (Tadias) – Samuel Getachew, an Ethiopian-born Canadian citizen, has announced his candidacy for the 2010 City Council election in Toronto.

Mr. Getachew, 33, is seeking to represent Scarborough East Ward 43 in the eastern part of Toronto, a diverse neighborhood long known as a magnet for newly arriving immigrants to Canada.

Getachew says he is running because he believes in public service and would like to address the crime and housing issues in his district.

“Politics and public service at their very best give us a rare opportunity to connect with people in our community and discuss issues that benefits the public,” Getachew said in an exclusive interview with Tadias Magazine. “Ward 43 has a large concentration of public housing; crime is a serious concern.”

Mr. Getachew, who studied Political Science and History at Carleton University in Ottawa, and who is currently employed by the provincial government in Toronto, says the city needs to do more to keep children of recent immigrants away from crime.

“It is a very diverse neighborhood and people who live here include Sri Lankans, Tamils, Iranians, Chinese, and as I knock on doors, I often learn the reasons why most young people get into crime…it is a direct result of a broken government system. Often times, immigrants are allowed to come to Canada because of their educational and work qualifications, but are not able to find work in their field of expertise once they land here. They are often forced to work double shifts to survive and their children are forced to grow up without much supervision, making them vulnerable to criminal behavior.”

According to Statistics Canada, a national census collecting agency, in 2006 Scarborough’s population was over 600,000 with approximately 57% percent of the residents being foreign born immigrants. “Visible minorities” – a demographic terminology used by the statistical organization – constitute over 67% of the population. These groups include South Asians, Chinese, Filipinos, Black Canadians and others. Toronto, with a population of 2.48 million, is also home to a growing and active Ethiopian community. “The greater Toronto Area has upwards of 30,000 Ethiopian residents, “ said Addis Embiyalow, Managing Director of Ethiopian Students Association International’s 10th Anniversary Summit. “Most Ethiopians do not know about the vibrant, dynamic Ethiopian community here.”

Mr. Getachew, who was born in Addis Ababa and arrived in Canada via Zambia, says his political ambitions began when he was volunteering within the Ethiopian-Canadian community.

“At age 17, I founded and hosted the first Ethiopian radio show in Ottawa and what an experience it was. I started a great conversation on the radio program at that very young age and it is a conversation that has not stopped after all these years,” he said. “I interviewed personalities such as White House fellow Dr Meheret Mandefro while she was at Harvard pursuing her undergraduate degree, artist Senait Ashenafi when she was still on the show ‘General Hospital,’ as well as musicians Muluken Melesse, Ephrem Tameru and many others.”

Mr. Getachew was an early proponent of naming a street in Toronto similar to the official Little-Ethiopia strip in Los Angeles.

“I was an advocate for Little Ethiopia and if Los Angeles can do it, I am sure a more diverse city like Toronto can do it as well,” he says pointing out that the idea is still possible. “And when I win, I want to ensure that the people I hire in my office will reflect the residents of the ward. I want to ensure that we take advantage of our diversity. I know of so many people including Ethiopian Canadians who should be given that opportunity.”

The candidate admits that compared to his challengers, he lags behind both in fundraising and organization. “I admit our campaign is the underdog at this time, both in money and grassroots support, but we have hope and we are determined,” he said. “We will work hard to ensure that we meet all of our expectations, and we will win. I look forward to recieve the support of those willing to contribute to my campaign ”

Mr. Getachew, however, is not the only contender with cash-flow problems. John Laforet, one of his opponents, recently warned his supporters that he maybe forced to quit for lack of funds. “ I remain the only candidate that lives in the Ward, the only candidate stepping up to fight for the community and sadly the only candidate who could be forced from the race over a lack of financial support,” he wrote on his blog. “Those who believe I would be a good Councillor need to get involved and take ownership of the fate of my campaign. Our community’s future hangs in the balance.”

Mr. Getachew still faces formidable opposition from the incumbent Paul Ainslie, who enjoys a superior campaign network and a wider name recognition. But he says that he feels confident that he can mount a worthy campaign of his own.

“I like to think our campaign as a movement. It is really a coming of age for our Ethiopian Canadian community here in Toronto and in many ways for all of Canada,” he notes. “The position of Councillor gives one a very powerful outlet to advocate for true change and I know there are many people in this city who can truly help us achieve our objective. I believe I have a unique perspective of the diversity issues from a personal experience and I have a better plan than my opponents to tackle problems surrounding housing and crime issues.”

The municipal election will take place on Monday, October 25, 2010.
—–
You can follow the 2010 Toronto elections at: www.toronto.ca/elections.

Samuel Getachew’s campaign can be reached at 647 456 9690.

(Cover image: Courtesy Photo)

16 Responses to “Samuel Getachew Enters City Council Race In Toronto”


  1. 1 Joseph Jamene Apr 9th, 2010 at 3:18 am

    We would like to follow the race for The City Council Seat Ward 43 of Toronto and all of us hope that TADIAS would offer us extensive coverage further.

    The Ethiopian candidate is well profiled for his youth, experiance and cross cultural assets and ethinic compostions of Toronto.

    Samuel Getachew should be supported and money is a factor of great note in North American politics.

  2. 2 Benyam Apr 9th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Dear Samuel,

    I appreciate your courage and efforts. Your candidacy speaks more to me about the progressive nature of Toronto and the Canadian society in general. Toronto is a beautiful city. I have visited once and I still remember it like a dream. So mush culture, so much diversity and tolerance. All the best to you my friend.

    Ben

  3. 3 Samuel Getachew Apr 9th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Thank you Joseph and Ben – it means a lot and the wonderful Tadias family – thank you for being a great advocate for us, Ethiopians, here and at home!

  4. 4 Konjit Apr 9th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t live in Canada and I can’t participate in the election, but I would like to pass on unsolicited advise to the candidate. Remain focused on local issues (crime and housing is a good start). But need more details, such as your “better” plan to implement crime prevention programs for the youth. You need to spell it out. A, b, c, etc…

    Your multicultural background is interesting and useful (after all Toronto prides itself as the most multicultural city in North America), but the key is to be 150% focused on issue that matter only to Ward 43 residents. They are the ones who can vote you into office (the rest is just watching you from afar, to see if you can pull this thing off). This is true democracy baby! Anything is possible! Good for you and go for it!!!

  5. 5 Samuel M. Gebru Apr 9th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I have known Samuel Getachew for some time now and am always impressed and inspired by his activities. Congratulations for deciding to run and I wish him all the best in running to be a City Councilor in Toronto.

    -SMG

  6. 6 koster Apr 13th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    God bless Canada. That there is no tribal politics and secret police.

  7. 7 Óiechá Óní_Óné Apr 14th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    These are among the things, the very best things, I want to hear and watch Ethiopians doing. If possible, ever day. If not, every year. From everywhere! It is just empowering! Exhilarating!

    A few years ago, a friend of mine, Sintayehu, run for parliament in Vienna, Austria representing the Social Democratic Party. He did not succeed but there is always is next time! For one thing, Vienna is not Toronto. There is neither many Ethiopian nor emigrants there. He is the persistent and go –getter type.

    This I will say or quote to Sammy!”Untill all of us have made it, none of us have made it” That was Dr. Rosemary Brown First black women in Canada elected to public office. Aim to the Stars, the least you could do is Hit the Top of the Tree!

    Sammy, this time City Hall in Toronto! Next Time to Ottawa…all the way to the PM office.

    Go For It!

    Congratulation!

    Óiechá ÓníÓné

  8. 8 Samuel Getachew Apr 15th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Oiecha,

    Thank you betam! Indeed the late Dr Rosemary Brown was a hero of mine and many others who wanted to travel to a road that is less travelled by us which is elected office. I like to point out, at the time, she was the only black to have run for the leadership of a political party in Canada followed by my campaign advisor and very close friend Stuart Parker as a Green Party Leader in British Columbia.

    Mekerhe ena asteyayete ayelegne!

    Samuel

  9. 9 The Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC) Apr 16th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC)

    10125 Colesville Rd, Ste 207 Silver Spring, MD 20901,

    P.O. Box 28597 San Jose, CA 95159

    http://www.eacouncil.org

    April 15, 2010

    LET’S HELP OUR MAN IN CANADA

    The Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC) encourages all North American Ethiopian expatriates to register, vote and actively participate in politics. In its mission to serve communities of Ethiopians residing in the US and Canada, EAC supports and encourages the many Ethiopians that are qualified to run for office in local and state levels where they live.

    EAC wants to tell you about the candidacy of 33-year-old Canadian Samuel Getachew who is running inToronto’s 2010 City Council elections this October. Getachew is an Ethiopian-born Canadian citizen who is seeking to represent Scarborough East Ward 43 in the eastern part of Toronto, a diverse neighborhood long known as a magnet for newly arriving immigrants to Canada. Scarborough has a population of over 600,000. Approximately 57% percent of residents are foreign born immigrants. These groups include South Asians, Chinese, Filipinos and Black Canadians. There are 30.000 Ethiopians among the 2.5 million people in the greater Toronto Area.

    Getachew says he is running because he believes in public service and would like to address the crime and housing issues in his district. “Politics and public service at their very best give us a rare opportunity to connect with people in our community and discuss issues that benefits the public,” Getachew said in an interview. “Ward 43 has a large concentration of public housing; crime is a serious concern.” The candidate said he was inspired to become involved in the political process here because Blacks are under-represented in the corridors of power. “Blacks don’t have much influence here in Canada,” he said. “There are very few of us in key political areas and there isn’t anything in Canada that’s similar to the Black Caucus in the United States.”

    Mr. Getachew was born in Addis Ababa and arrived in Canada via Zambia. Getachew completed his high school education in Ottawa after arriving in the Canadian capital in 1990 with his family. He pursued Political Science Studies at Carleton University and worked for Elections Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Board, and in the House of Commons. He started a community newspaper in high school and founded the Friends of Ethiopia in Ottawa. Through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities partnership program that matches Canadian and other global cities, he was also instrumental in securing an ambulance that was shipped to Ethiopia. After moving to Toronto in 2008, Getachew became active in that city’s Ethiopian community and launched the popular Ethiopia Friday networking event.

    In 2006, Getachew’s first foray into politics was unsuccessful when he attempted in to become an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee. Two years ago, Getachew spent almost a year campaigning in the U.S. for Barack Obama and had the opportunity to met him in Ohio. “I went to the United States because I wanted to see for myself how the country had evolved from nearly four decades ago when my father studied there” he said. “It’s was amazing to see a Black man contending strongly for the presidency then as opposed to the time when my dad went to university and had to use washrooms reserved for colored people”. His father, Getachew Jembere, graduated from New Mexico University and worked for several years as a researcher at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies before relocating to Zambia in 1993, where he’s now retired.

    Samuel Getachew says the city needs to do more to keep children of recent immigrants away from crime. “Itis a very diverse neighborhood and people who live here include Sri Lankans, Tamils, Iranians, Chinese, and as I knock on doors, I often learn the reasons why most young people get into crime…it is a direct result of a broken government system. Often times, immigrants are allowed to come to Canada because of their educational and work qualifications, but are not able to find work in their field of expertise once they land here. They are often forced to work double shifts to survive and their children are forced to grow up without much supervision, making them vulnerable to criminal behavior.”

    The candidate is going to need help from Ethiopians from across North America. Getachew admits that compared to his challengers, he lags behind both in fundraising and organization. “I admit our campaign is the underdog at this time, both in money and grassroots support, but we have hope and we are determined,” he said. “We will work hard to ensure that we meet all of our expectations, and we will win. I look forward toreceive the support of those willing to contribute to my campaign”.

    EAC encourages people to help Samuel Getachew’s campaign. The municipal election takes place October 25, 2010.

    The Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC).

  10. 10 AJ Apr 21st, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I am very amazed with Samuel!! I personally live in the grater Toronto area. We ethioCanadians need someone who can stand for Us. Unfortuntiltly Ethiopian community in Toronto is not that strong like the other minority communities. I also watched the video conversation with you and the Toronto mayor regarding on naming one of the street in Toronto little Ethiopia!! Here is the link vidio( http://watch.ctv.ca/clip291877#clip291877)

  11. 11 Óiechá Óní_Óné Apr 21st, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Dear Samuel

    This is for your Mekerhe ena asteyayete ayelegne!

    It was such a pleasure to be asked to pitch in! Here is a bit of what I know, what I feel and what I think:

    1. A block of Fairfax Ave, LA is “Little Ethiopia”. Here is how it came about, to the best of my recollection. Mr. D. Mesifin organized a fund raising dinner for the reelection of Net Holden for the city council. Among the guests was a beautiful Ethiopian lady. In conversation Councilman Holden asks the lady “what, if anything, can I do for you” They already know each other. Without missing a bit “if only a section of Fairfax Ave be named Little Ethiopia, after all almost all the businesses there are owned by Ethiopian” Done!” responded the councilman and the rest is history.

    The lesson here for now and for all times: Connection!!, the right kind of connection. It is bound to pay a dividend. Timing too is of the essence. I urge you to activate and reactivate all the connection you have. And urge all your friends, supporters, promoters… to create. activate and reactive their Connections. For the Ethiopian and Immigrant community for this time and for all times. If you can, turn it into something like what the American call Political Action Committee (PAC). And so much the better Tomorrow is Another Day and you will find it handy!

    2. I think you have 3 constituents in Toronto, The Ethiopian Community, the Immigrant community and the larger Canadian community. The immigrant community, as far as I can tell, is mainly from Asia, Africa, and Latino. All immigrants have similar hopes aspiration, disappointments, disorientation, fears and anxieties. We all carry our cultural, political bags and baggages with us from Back Home. Paying attention to each group’s sensitivity and sensibility will matter.

    3. How do you make these immigrants an asset? That is to say, how do you make them believe that your are the right person to represent the common denominator of the immigrants? And how do you convince that one fine day in a similar situation that they can also knock on the door of the Ethiopian community and they will find the door Open and Welcoming. After all reciprocity and/or “scratch my back and I will scratch yours” is an intrinsic human nature.

    4. You will not be inventing the wheel but simply adjusting it to the need at hand. Talk to influential people in the community, talk to the leaders of the community, Talk to the religious and cultural leaders of the community. Talk to the Youth leaders and above all the Orientals and Latinos are more community and family focused and oriented. Try to focus on their family and community needs. Identify their hopes, fears aspiration, expectation, disappointments and make them see it’s shared by all the immigrants and if elected you will do you level best to make a dent on the common grievance.

    5. Toronto is not an immigrant city but a city in which immigrants reside. It is up to you to convince the Canadian society that the intention is not to taking over their city but a manifestation and tribute to their welcoming culture. A proof that integration without legislation can be achieved through the democratic process, the ballot box. It is important to reduce their fears and anxieties. I don’t have to convince anyone that they do have fears and anxieties.

    6. Above all, don’t take anything for granted including the Ethiopian Community. Work and hard on it. Create an email list and unfailingly remind them. Encourage those who are eligible to vote to go get registered.

    Above all, walk the walk! And talk the talk! Knock on doors! You Will succeed! I wish and pray You do

    With Regards
    Óiechá Óní_Óné

  12. 12 Samuel Getachew Apr 23rd, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Oiecha,
    I like the story of the LA experience and infact I have read it a few times to be inspired. The only difference with our efforts is that, we will do it within the system. When I do become Councillor and ultimately Mayor of Toronto (God willing), not only do I want to see Little Ethiopia but I want to see streets and buildings named after our Ethiopian Canadian friends. Little Ethiopia is just a start brother. Thank you for your thoughtful words and yes, once again, stay in touch.

    AJ,
    If you live in Toronto, please, help us. Be part of the movement!

    Samuel

  13. 13 Henock Alemu Nov 5th, 2010 at 4:23 pm
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