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Political refugee leans on life experience in Ward 6 campaign

'I’ve decided to stand up and do my part to support the community that has supported us,' says Nigussie Nigussie, who came to Canada in 2008 from Ethiopia

Editor's note: BarrieToday is running profile stories on candidates for city council in each of the city's 10 wards. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can also find mayoral profiles and other election news. 

Ward 6 candidate Nigussie Nigussie has been in Barrie for only a few years, but says his life experiences and love for the community will help him be the right representative for his south-end neighbourhood.

Nigussie has lived in Barrie for the last eight years with his wife Hanna and their two children, nine-year-old Abinet and seven-year-old Maya.

He came to Canada in 2008 as a political refugee from Ethiopia, where he was a freelance journalist and author. 

After originally settling in Regina, Sask., Nigussie says he was drawn to Barrie for the same reasons many of his neighbours chose the city for their own families: the community feel, the quality of life and its safety.

Nigussie told BarrieToday he's running for Ward 6 because he feels residents deserve a councillor who's committed to them. 

“When we got to Barrie, this city was committed to us. Every time we needed a referral, support or friendship, Barrie residents stepped up for us,” he said. “After eight years of welcoming my family and making us feel like an integral part of this community, it’s time to give back.

"I’ve decided to stand up and do my part to support the community that has supported us.”

The 41-year-old says city council needs a councillor who not only understands the issues at city hall, but one who feels those decisions directly. 

“The decisions I make about our roads and infrastructure are going to affect my kids, and my wife and I when we take them to soccer practice. The way I vote on issues related to safety directly affects how comfortable we feel about letting them play at our parks and go to the corner store,” Nigussie said.

“The existing council has two members of council whose decisions have that kind of direct personal impact on them directly, and I believe we need a few more people around the table who bring that perspective and lived experience to decision-making," he added. 

Nigussie also says that as someone who came to Canada with limited resources, he knows how to stretch the value of a dollar. 

The first thing on his list, if elected, is to build a working relationship with his fellow councillors. 

“Once I earn their respect, I can work for the people of Ward 6. Once I’ve done that, going over the budget to find efficiencies so we can fund as many school-zone cameras in Ward 6, as well as ways to support Neighbourhood Watch, are priorities I can make some immediate change in,” Nigussie said.

The Barrie municipal election takes place on Oct. 24.