President Speaker Series: Building your community in Canada by Moncef Lakouas

Moncef Lakouas, President of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council was present for International Educational Week in November 2022, which was the first time he visited campus. More recently, he gave a talk hosted by Mt. A on January 20. Moncef is originally from Morocco, but arrived in New Brunswick 19 years ago to study at the University of Moncton. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting. He is passionate about community engagement, empowerment, and creating opportunities for youth. During his studies, he founded a student leadership program that aims to help young New Brunswickers to get jobs in their field of studies in the province. The Moncef movement was created as a leadership program to share his experience, success, advice, and mistakes with young people in the community to help them succeed.

When he started working in New Brunswick, he was curious about what was next, so he moved to Montreal to work for a bank. His experience in Montreal was an exciting one, as he did not know anyone, but he ultimately did not feel at home.  After three and half years of living and working in Montreal, he moved back to New Brunswick without a job or a house and stayed with a friend for a month.  This is when he began to realize that he wanted something more than a job; he wanted a career and to be part of the community. Moncef now knows that it does not matter where you come from; if you want to be in New Brunswick, there is a place for you. 

Moncef explained there is a lot of pressure that comes from family and friends, but if you want to develop a good community, it is up to you to overcome those challenges. He stated that New Brunswick is the fastest-growing community in the whole of Canada and that there are a lot of opportunities and potential here. “This is the best time to be in New Brunswick for investment and opportunities. Moncton welcomed more immigrants than ever in the last few years,” he said.

In Moncton alone, there are thousands of jobs and connections to be made, and it is easier to connect with people in this small community compared to in a community that has millions of people. 

Moncef asked students what they thought the province would look like in 20 years. Some ideas included growth in businesses and jobs, multiculturalism, population, infrastructures, multinational businesses, and diversity, as well as better health care, education, and transit.   

Moncef then asked what the students planned to contribute to the growth and ensure that New Brunswick develops in the next 20 years. Students’ answers included being an agent of change, starting a business, creating diversity in popular culture, engaging in projects, networking, and running for a position in government.

What will New Brunswick become if all of this is done? The response to Moncef’s final question included affordable housing, quality healthcare, improved transit, and greater vibrancy. As a final incentive for the students to help change the world, he asked whether they would “rather stay and [improve the province or] leave and go to a developed community” that had already accomplished what the students envisioned for New Brunswick. Students that attended this speaker series assumed New Brunswick will turn out to look like Dubai or New York if the youths invest in it.

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