This profile was part of the Faculty of Public Affairs’ Generation FPA series, which highlighted up and coming alumni who graduated between 2008-2018. The series was published in 2018.
Adar Abdulkadir is the Project Manager for the RAJO Project under the organization Canadian Friends of Somalia, which supports Somali youth and families with counselling, mentorship and support. It is funded by Public Safety Canada.
What drew you to the criminology program?
In high school my favourite course was Law… I also loved Law & Order SVU and the idea of studying the criminal justice system. I thought I might want to be a lawyer but after a few volunteer experiences and courses that introduced me to a more critical lens, I changed course.
In second year, you began volunteering at the Ottawa courthouse.
I was a volunteer with Ottawa Victim Services. I would attend court hearings with survivors of domestic violence. Many cases were “he said, she said” and the court often sided with the accused.
Seeing the impact of that in real time and on real people really shaped what I wanted to do. There is a lot of room for improvement in our system and its impact on people’s lives.
You also participated in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice field placement program. What was that like?
I worked with Victims of Violence – Canadian Centre for Missing Children and most of my work involved research as well as writing. People would call in and ask questions about the various processes within the criminal justice system. We also maintained an online resource page. During my time there I had the chance to interview the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and write an article for their monthly publication.
How did these experiences influence your career plans?
Rather than doing something that I felt was more “reactive”, I decided to focus on crime prevention. After finishing my degree, I worked for three years doing front-line community work as a Community House Assistant and Youth Worker at two community health centres in Ottawa. I then pursued my master’s degree in criminology at Simon Fraser University. Following that, I was hired as the Project Manager for the RAJO Project.
What is the mission of the RAJO project?
RAJO – the Somali word for hope – is a youth and family empowerment project. We have counsellors and outreach workers in both our Ottawa and Edmonton offices. The RAJO team works directly in high schools as well as in the community setting.
Our goal is to help Somali youth stabilize their social environment and their emotional regulation. We also act as advocates for them, as our youth are negatively labelled more often than other students.
It’s very challenging work because we’re promoting a service that is often stigmatized in the community. But I love this project. It’s right in my wheelhouse: crime prevention. I’m also Somali—this is my community—and being involved with it is a privilege.
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