RMWB honours outstanding community members at ceremony

“Contributing positively to society gives me a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction,” said Citizen of the Year recipient Mohammed Ali Al-Zabidi.

Article content

While growing up in the Middle East, Mohammed Ali Al-Zabidi joined his father as he gave food to the less fortunate every week. These acts of charity created a love for volunteering and helping others which continued into his adult life.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Earlier this month, that charitable spirit was honoured by Mayor Sandy Bowman and the rest of RMWB council as Al-Zabidi was named the RMWB’s Citizen of the Year.

Article content

“Volunteering helps strengthen communities and fosters a sense of connection among individuals who share common goals and values, creating a supportive network that can make communities more resilient and vibrant,” said Al-Zabidi. “For youth and young adults in particular, volunteering will help them learn new skills, gain valuable experience and gain personal development which will enhance their self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Al-Zabidi is an engineer and has called Fort McMurray home since 2008. The award celebrated Al-Zabidi’s support for many organizations including the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, the Center of Hope, the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre and Markaz-Ul-Islam.

Advertisement 3

Article content

As a leader with the Markaz-Ul-Islam congregation, Al-Zabidi has held free barbecues during the Canada Day Parade, organized relief for evacuees of wildfires and floods, and encouraged people to volunteer and support non-profits. The award also acknowledged his leadership with the Abrams Land Development, which turned the area into an inclusive development for faith groups.

“Lending hands to others in need is part of my Islamic faith as we learned from our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him. He said ‘the people most beloved to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people,” said Al-Zabidi. “Contributing positively to society gives me a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Mohammed Ali Al-Zabidi
Mohammed Ali Al-Zabidi. Supplied image

Multiple community volunteers recognized

The awards also recognized four other residents. Jeffrey Batchelor was given the Everyday Hero Award for his philanthropy and community spirit. He has raised more than $70,000 for clubs, teams and fundraisers in the region. He is the longest standing member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo.

Sheena Bradley was given the Indigenous Advocate Award. Bradley is respected for her work with Indigenous land stewardship and traditional harvesting practices. She has also worked with multiple different local and provincial groups, and was described as a passionate champion for Indigenous people.

The two youth awards went to young Indigenous sports advocates. Parker and Cruze Flett are the founders of the Wahkohtowin Sports Circle, formerly known as Fort Mac Hockey Brothers Association. The Flett brothers fundraise for sports equipment for young people in Anzac, Conklin, Janvier, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McKay.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Fort McKay archer Tayden Shott was also honoured with a youth award. Shott has competed in multiple provincial and national archery tournaments, and is raising archery’s profile in the region. Last year he went to Fort Chipewyan to introduce the sport to the community’s young people.

He is preparing to compete in next month’s Arctic Winter Games in Alaska. This summer, Shott hopes to open a small archery range in Fort McKay. As a registered junior trapper, Shott mentors local youth by teaching them how to respect the land.

“We need more people to go to shoots and get recognized,” said Shott in an interview. “Bringing different kinds of sports into Indigenous communities is important. Nothing against hockey, I used to play hockey, but hockey is expensive. Archery is a really exciting sport.”

Get the news and events of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo in your inbox every Friday morning by signing up for our newsletter.

[email protected]

Article content