Olympic exec returns to politics
From his office on Powell Street, just east of Vancouver’s downtown core, Taleeb Noormohamed has a picturesque view of the North Shore.
Looking out his window, the 34-year-old technology consultant can see the snowy peaks of the mountains, can watch the Seabus shuttle passengers back and forth, and can even pinpoint the family business — an architecture firm near Harbourside Park — where his mother, father and sister all work.
But, for Noormohamed, North Vancouver is more than just the city across the inlet. It’s home.
After his family moved here from Ottawa when he was in Grade 4, Noormohamed says he made all of his best — and worst — childhood memories in North Van.
As a boy he remembers walking home from Maplewood school, playing road hockey near Riverside Drive, learning to skate at the Karen Magnussen Rec Centre, and learning to swim at the Ron Andrews Rec Centre.
He also remembers saying goodbye to both his grandparents before they died at Lions Gate Hospital.
“You put those together and you realize that’s what a community is,” he says. “It’s a place where you laugh and celebrate together when things are going well, but when things are not going well you have people to support you.”
It’s that sense of community, adds Noormohamed, that makes him want to represent North Vancouver on Parliament Hill.
Earlier this month Noormohamed announced his intention to seek the nomination for the federal Liberal party in North Van. In doing so, he joins District of North Vancouver councillor Roger Bassam, former Nunavut MLA Kevin O’Brien and North Shore community organizer Dee Dhaliwal.
Part of his motivation to run, says Noormohamed, is his desire to give back to the land that gave his family a fresh start.
The Noormohameds, he says, first moved to Canada in 1973 during a time of upheaval in East Africa. Living in Ottawa, his parents both worked two jobs to make ends meet, while his father fought to have his overseas architecture degree recognized in Canada.
Only a few decades later the family is a beacon of success, but they have never taken it for granted.
“There was always this sense that you owe this country something,” says Noormohamed. “My parents wanted us to think about why we’re here and how lucky we are to be here.”
After graduating high school, Noormohamed studied public policy at Princeton, followed by doctoral work at Oxford. That led him to work in government under two previous Liberal prime ministers (Jean Chretien and Paul Martin), first in the Privy Council Office, then later as the director of the Air India bombing review.
In that role, Noormohamed had the opportunity to consult with the bombing victims’ families face-to-face. Working alongside MP Bob Rae, Noormohamed was instrumental in the establishment of permanent memorials in Vancouver and Toronto.
“The lesson I took from that experience is that, if you get behind something and you believe that good will come from it, you can actually deliver some really good results,” he says.
More recently, Noormohamed held the title of Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships for VANOC. Leading up to the 2010 Olympics he had the opportunity to travel the country and engage citizens of all walks of life.
Building on that experience, Noormohamed says he now wants to share “the success story that is North Vancouver” with other MPs in the nation’s capital.
“There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from our community,” he says. “These days that’s what gets me up in the morning, and that’s what keeps me up at night.”