When you see Fadhl Abu-Ghanem patrolling, you immediately feel at ease. As a Transit Peace Officer with Edmonton Transit Service, he helps create safe environments for all transit users day in and day out. You would think his risky job would make him want to stay under-the-radar on his time off work but that is not the case. Fadhl also gives back to the community on his free time. He has been volunteering for Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters group (BGCBigs) ever since he became an adult. BGCBigs is an organization close to his heart that he says “truly shaped who he is today.” He is one of six recipients of the 2017 provincial Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards.
Almost two decades ago, Fadhl’s family fled the civil war in hopes of a better life here in Canada. Not knowing a word of English, Fadhl found comfort when he joined the Boys and Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters group (BGCBigs). He experienced first-hand the hardships of being in a brand new continent and having to learn a new language from scratch. He mentions, “I remember us thinking it was simply something we had to get through. We wanted to go to the grocery store and had to explain what we wanted and with the help of some sign language at the beginning, we got through it.” It took Fadhl a few months to learn the language and adapt to the new environment, but his experience is something he will never forget.’
Fadhl (on the left) when he was little.
Fadhl lives by the motto that everything happens for a reason and says, “experiencing different cultures and having the ability to speak different languages really makes me appreciate what I went through and understand what every newcomer goes through too.” He always knew he wanted to give back by giving immigrant teenagers that same sense of belonging and purpose he received when he was younger.
He now runs Boys Group as part of the All in for Youth Initiative at Spruce Avenue School, a weekly program that welcomes at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. Every week, Fadhl connects with the youth and teaches them the importance of education, healthy relationships, standing up against domestic violence, servant leadership and even explores their career options with them. He has become their mentor and confidant. Some youth are now even inquiring about becoming officers themselves!
Fadhl has also broken down the barriers between law enforcement and this demographic which can sometimes be hard to reach. He is not only relatable but also speaks their language, literally. He is fluent in Arabic and has been helping young Syrian refugees integrate to their communities by speaking his native language with them. He has made them feel at ease and comfortable in their own skin.
Fadhl is as an example of a community leader and builder. He thanks his ETS sergeants and colleagues for their ongoing support.