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TORONTO – The president of the Moroccan Association of Toronto (AMDT) is sending the torch in a few days. This MonAvenir school board agent, recently appointed knight of the Ordre de la Pléiade, involved in several advisory committees in French, looks back on a rich journey from his hometown, Marrakech, to his adopted city, Toronto.
“Why leave the presidency of AMDT now?
I took two terms and I even extended since 2018 because no one would take over. On 14 May, the election will nominate new faces, who will have the opportunity to continue what we have started and create other projects.
What fascinates you most about this role as president?
I was elected eight years ago at a time when everything had to be built from scratch. We built a structure known and valued in society. It is very rewarding. I have always enjoyed working in charities that promote sharing and knowledge. It was therefore natural for me to engage in this association to support immigrants who settle and contribute to changing the structure of society. I wanted to show that we were capable of doing great things.
What “good thing” are you thinking of in particular?
We completed the big project of having a Consulate General in Morocco in Toronto. Since June 2020, people no longer have to travel to Montreal and spend $ 500 on making a paper that costs $ 10. Thanks to the support of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Canadian Minister of International Trade, the Consulate General today not only serves the community but also establishes business partnerships that contribute to economic development.
How have you strengthened the cultural presence of Moroccans in Toronto over the past eight years?
First, by hosting a major cultural evening that gathers more than 500 guests each March, even though the pandemic has forced us to put it on hold for the past two years. Then by opening a stable room that can receive newcomers and help the community in various ways. We also organized a conference for women entrepreneurs. This is the first time we have held a conference of this magnitude with a hundred businesswoman African and Canadian.
Is the Moroccan community growing in Ontario? Where is it concentrated, and why is Toronto increasingly attracting it?
Over the past five or six years, I have witnessed an influx into the Greater Toronto area, whereas previous travels were mainly from Morocco to Quebec. Despite the cost of living, people with degrees here come for the job opportunities and desire to learn English. They come from Morocco, Quebec and the Middle East.
What does your new title of Knight of the Ordre de la Pléiade mean to you?
It highlights all the work you do and shows the respect people have for your work. It really warms the heart and it gives energy to commit even more. Everything you do in the community, whether small or large, has an effect and is recognized as such.
What were your plans when you studied international economic relations in Rabat?
Even before I finished my studies, something clicked inside me that pushed me to change places, to see other horizons. I went to Europe. I stayed there for three months. But I was not safe, so I decided to turn to Canada, where my sister already lived.
Have you kept a link to Marrakech?
Yes, Marrakech is in my heart even though I left it at the age of seven to go to the capital Rabat to follow my family and my father, a career soldier. When I travel to Morocco, I stay half of my time in Marrakech.
What can you find in Marrakech that you will never find in Toronto?
The lifestyle is very different, more European. Here you run, you run while walking very slowly. People take time to eat, chat, meet. I like this city because it is relaxing and the climate is very pleasant. After all the stress we can gather here, I really relax.
Nearly ten years after the cultivated spring sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East, has Morocco really changed?
This country has changed a lot, especially since the amendment of its constitution in 2011. We realize this especially from the outside, and that we travel there once a year. Admittedly, there is still unemployment and there is still a lot to do, but in terms of rights, finances or even prosperity, there is a big difference that I have seen in recent years.
You have been employed by the MonAvenir school board for 22 years. In what way, in your opinion, is education in a minority environment a crucial mission?
Education is important everywhere. Without education we cannot develop. It means a lot to me. In addition to my administrative duties, I had the opportunity to briefly teach mathematics. It is rewarding to see how the blackboard develops and how the children learn in their preferred language. So, of course, one has to fight to get these rights, but I hope that the new law on official languages will strengthen these rights for Francophones to be served in their language, not only in education but also in all business sectors.
What does it mean to hoist the Moroccan flag every year in front of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Toronto City Hall that you will never miss?
It’s a historic moment. Every November 18, we celebrate Morocco’s independence, and we want to preserve this history. It is a source of pride for us because it reminds us of our country of origin, but it is also an enrichment for young people born here in Canada who can better understand the historical complexity of this country that has undergone colonization. . and a number of steps over the past 100 years.
You were a member of the French Committee on Affairs in the city of Toronto. Why is this structure so inefficient? Should it be reformed?
Many things need to change. This is my personal point of view. It was very slow and that’s not my way. I went into it out of love for francophony and for the French to be recognized, but once I was inside, I felt stuck. We talk, we have meetings, we talk, we have meetings … Often in English according to the city official present. It does not look good not to find people who speak French in a French committee.
You who sat on the board of the Toronto radio station CHOQ-FM, do you think the governments are probably helping the community media throughout the province?
There have been funds in recent years, but they remain limited. You need to be good at picking them up. The volunteer work done in these radios is colossal because it is necessary to constantly find funds and sensitize people so that a station survives. It is very heavy work. It is an achievement that requires the support of society and governments.
As a member of the Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnocultural Minorities, do you think that significant progress has been made in taking into account minorities in our society?
AFO is doing a good job. We exchange ideas on how to accommodate these minorities. But at the government level, there is still a lot of work to be done because inequalities persist.
Is it true that environmental issues and climate change fascinate you? Are there common problems between Morocco and Canada?
Yes, I devoted my thesis to the environment in Morocco. I attended a global conference on climate change in Marrakech in 2017. It is a global issue that affects everyone. We should take that much more seriously. Canadians are very divided on this issue, but if we take it humanely and objectively before we look at the economy, we will one day be forced to make concessions.
What projects do you have in mind?
I want to hand over the chairmanship of AMDT, but that does not mean that I am disappearing from society. I will stay and help where I can. I want to give more time to my family and my growing children. I also intend to develop my business and participate in several committees related to Francophonie. »
FAOUZI METOUILLI KEY DATES
1969: Born in Marrakesh, Morocco
1999: Immigrated to Ontario
2000: Joined MonAvenir School Board
2014: Becomes president of the Moroccan Association in Toronto
2020: Appointed UN Adviser and Ambassador for Peace
2022: Knight of the Order of Pleiades
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