Thador Tekhli has just completed the Accounting and Business Administration program at St. Clair College.
But the college graduate is just a title on the 21-year-old’s long resume. He is also a varsity athlete, social justice advocate, and community and campus volunteer. During the pandemic, Tekhli helped by getting a part-time job in a long-term care home.
After graduation, Tekhli was awarded the college’s Student Leadership Medal – only one of three recipients on the school’s campuses.
The award recognizes academic achievement and “contributing to the promotion of the campus environment through its relationships with staff and other students”.
But the journey to all of Tekhli’s achievements came with challenges that many of his peers could not have imagined.
Before arriving in Canada with his mother and sister in 2010, the family lived in Sudan. In an interview with CBC Radio Windsor Morning On Tuesday, Tekhli recalled seeing tanks pass by the school he attended.
“There was a war going on that was literally a mile from where I was going to school,” he said. “So having to see this when I was a kid was very scary and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I was going to live that day.”
The family settled in Chatham, Ontario, after being sponsored by the Anglican Church to come to Canada as refugees. English was Tekhli’s sixth language.
He said his experience inspired him to help others and take advantage of opportunities.
“I have been helped by so many people, now I feel like I have to pay it forward,” he said.
Tekhli has volunteered for a long list of events and organizations. He was also a member of the award winning St. Clair College cross country team.
He hosted a Black Lives Matter walk last year and advocated for Chatham-Kent City Council to support efforts to recognize Emancipation Day as a federal holiday, which the council supported.
As a participant in the 1834 scholarship program, he made a presentation to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and met with other policymakers. He has also worked with the Canadian Embassy in Singapore and Malaysia as a Junior Team Canada Ambassador with Global Vision.
Tekhli plans to attend the University of Windsor to earn his degree in accounting, with a minor in political science.
In the future, he wants to work to support young people of color, at risk or in poverty.
“I just want to take young people out of the circumstances they find themselves in, so that they can be recognized and have the opportunity,” he said.
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.