Nigel Barriffe has every right to feel passionate about Etobicoke North. Raised there, he teaches at a junior middle school in the community which has a diverse population comprising varying economic levels and backgrounds that make jobs and transportation major concerns for area residents.
It’s for this reason that Barriffe ran for the Green Party in the 2008 federal elections. He’s since switched parties and is the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate in Etobicoke North.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced last Friday that the province is heading to the polls on June 12. She asked Lieutenant Governor David Onley to dissolve the legislature after the NDP said it had lost confidence in the Liberals and would vote with the Conservatives to defeat last week’s budget.
Medical doctor and Liberal party member, Shafiq Quaadri, has been the Etobicoke North riding representative since 2003.
“People in this community have come from all parts of the world and have done everything they are supposed to do to become useful and productive citizens,” said Barriffe. “There are individuals in this community who have as much as three degrees, yet they are unable to find good jobs that will pay them a wage so they can work one job instead of having to seek multiple employment. The jobs in this community are short-term and precarious and that’s unacceptable.”
After spending nearly two decades in the banking industry, information technology and sales and marketing industries, Barriffe switched careers. The York University Math graduate returned to school to pursue studies in primary education and, in the process, became an even stronger community activist.
Barriffe, who holds a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto and is active in environmental research, social justice and labour organizations, is counting on the community’s support to make things happen in the neighbourhood.
“Putting together policies that strengthen our home here in Etobicoke North is no easy task,” he said. “We will need all your help. We want to start on this policy work right now and need to hear from you about what the key concerns are facing North Etobicoke.”
The Greenholme Junior Middle School teacher has lived in the community since he and his family migrated from Jamaica in the mid-1980s.
Honoured for community service four years ago by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations at its 35th annual awards dinner, Barriffe is a member of the African Heritage Educational Network, the Community Organization for Responsible Development, the Etobicoke Youth Network and the Civic Engagement Working Group of the Rexdale/Jamestown Neighbourhood Action Partnership.
In 2012, he was honoured with a J.S. Woodsworth Award that recognizes individuals and organizations striving to eliminate discrimination.