CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Basel Al Rashdan will get to tell his story to the United Nations.
The 12-year-old Charlottetown resident, whose family arrived in P.E.I. as Syrian refugees in December 2015, has obtained the travel documents necessary to give a speech at the U.N.’s New York headquarters for World Children’s Day on Nov. 20.
Al Rashdan said he’s looking forward to addressing the organization’s 193 member states.
“I’m excited, I’m really glad,” said Al Rashdan after confirming the trip.
Al Rashdan was previously invited to address the U.N., but he was unsure if he could get the travel documents required to go to the U.S.
“I’m proud to be a Canadian and I’m proud for coming here. It’s better and safer (in Canada). The people here are kind and it’s been good for my parents.”
-Basel Al Rashdan, in a previous interview with The Guardian
He thanked staff members with the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada (P.E.I. ANC) and Charlottetown MP Sean Casey for helping him obtain those documents in time.
“I really appreciate it. Thanks for all their help, it took a lot of their time,” said Al Rashdan.
Al Rashdan’s father, Amjad, and a member of P.E.I. ANC will also be going down for the speech, which will help raise awareness of displaced children living in desperate situations.
The family, which also includes Al Rashdan’s mother, seven-year-old sister, six-year-old brother, was among the first to arrive in P.E.I. under the federal government’s promise of resettling Syrian refugees. Since arriving in Canada, Al Rashdan’s family has expanded to include a new brother.
Al Rashdan was previously interviewed by the United National International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) last June for a documentary on refugee immigration to P.E.I.
Al Rashdan said he has enjoyed living in Canada. He was originally born in Syria and, after conflict began escalating in the country, moved to Jordan for several years before his family came to Canada.
“I’m proud to be a Canadian and I’m proud for coming here,” Al Rashdan said in a previous interview with The Guardian. “It’s better and safer (in Canada). The people here are kind and it’s been good for my parents.”