At just 21 years old, Dawit Demoz was forced to flee Eritrea, becoming a refugee in Israel for nearly seven years. During this time, he worked for various nonprofit organizations advocating for the rights of refugees and educating refugees about their employment rights, despite his background in microbiology.
“I had a microbiology background, but I became a refugee advocate, and that led me to the non-profit world,” he said.
After being privately sponsored to come to Canada, Dawit pursued his undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Development Studies at York University. His summer jobs included leading outdoor trips with Project Canoe and working as a camp counselor at Heart to Heart— a youth leadership program for Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel.
Following his graduation, Dawit joined the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, where he became an advocate for refugee sponsorship. Leveraging his connections in Israel, he collaborated with the Jewish community in Toronto to sponsor numerous African refugees from Israel. To date, Dawit has facilitated approximately fifteen groups actively involved in sponsoring refugees from Israel, Ethiopia, and Libya.
As a member of the Refugee Advisory Network of Canada (RAN Canada), Dawit actively participates in a global network of former refugees dedicated to promoting meaningful refugee engagement in policy discussions. His contributions encompass offering guidance on meaningful refugee representation at decision-making forums, advocating for funding to support refugee-led organizations, and addressing the underlying causes of refugee crises.
Dawit currently serves as the Community Relations Manager at Jumpstart Refugee Talent, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting refugees on their path to meaningful employment in Canada. He facilitates access to Jumpstart programs focused on career readiness, employment support, and entrepreneurship programs.
“We educate the employers that refugees are an asset, they bring a lot of skills and experiences that enriches the workplace,” Dawit emphasizes. “For our clients, we inspire, encourage, and support them to pursue their careers in their respective fields. Our focus is on meaningful employment rather than survival jobs.”
Jumpstart’s services are free and available to refugees authorized to work in Canada, with CLB 5 and above, and are actively seeking employment.
On June 19th, from 2:00-6:00 EDT, Jumpstart and the New Canadian TV Network are collaborating to host the Refuge(E)xpo: Celebration of Culture and Creativity—a free virtual event to commemorate World Refugee Day.
The event includes a virtual exhibit hall for participants to engage with service providers and panels featuring refugee authors and advocates passionate about including refugees in decision-making processes. Dawit hopes this event will showcase the talent, experiences, culture, and creativity that refugees bring to their new communities.
“One of the slogans we use in global refugee advocacy is ‘Nothing about refugees should be done without refugees,'” Dawit explains. “This event aims to highlight the talent, experiences, culture, and creativity that people who happen to be refugees bring to the table.” Everyone is welcome.
Despite years of supporting refugees, Dawit prefers to be referred to as an advocate rather than a leader.
“I don’t like being called a leader—I choose to use my experience, skills, and privilege to be here to support others,” he asserts. “Nobody selected me to do what I do, but I’m using the tools I have acquired over the years to advocate for others in need. I choose to do that every day.”
Thank you Dawit for your incredible work as a #RefugeeCityBuilder!