Thursday, December 9, 2021
Home Covid-19 Mariam Hamou sworn in as Ward 6 councillor in London, Ont.

Mariam Hamou sworn in as Ward 6 councillor in London, Ont.

Mariam Hamou has been sworn in as the Ward 6 councillor for London, Ont.

Her appointment to office was made official on Wednesday during a brief ceremony inside city hall, marking the end of a month-long process that looked to fill the formerly vacant seat.

Read more:
Committee endorses Mariam Hamou to fill Ward 6 vacancy in London, Ont.

In mid-October, Phil Squire, who was in his second term as Ward 6 councillor, announced his resignation after he was appointed to a provincial tribunal that barred him from serving on council.

Council then decided to open applications for Ward 6 hopefuls, with applicants asked why they want to serve on council, what experience and qualifications they bring, and whether they plan to seek re-election.

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, Hamou beat 20 other contenders in three rounds of voting to be appointed London’s Ward 6 councillor.

“I don’t think it’s going to kick in until I’m sitting in that chair and asked to make a decision,” Hamou said during Wednesday’s ceremony.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Hamou had no idea she’d be appointed to office, adding that the only councillor she spoke to beforehand had informed her that they’d be selecting another applicant.

“When it came out in my favour, I was shocked, to be honest,” she said. “I was shocked beyond belief.”

A human rights activist and political advocate, Hamou brings with her a resume that includes working as the chief of staff for former London North Centre Liberal MP Glen Pearson.

Story continues below advertisement

Her other work includes serving in a public relations role for the Syrian Opposition Coalition in Turkey, as well as chairing and co-founding the Syrian Relief Fund, which helped settle Syrian refugees in London.

Hamou has also served a number of boards, including that of the London Muslim Mosque.

Currently, she serves on boards for the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, the Ontario Library Boards Association and the London Public Library, having chaired the latter from 2019 to 2020.

Read more:
John Fyfe-Millar sworn in as Ward 13 councillor, next steps await Ward 6

Hamou says one of the most pressing issues for Ward 6 is the annual update to London’s multi-year budget, which is set to receive final approval from council on Dec. 21.

She also wants to focus on one of the ward’s most prominent residents, Western University.

“That relationship needs to be really, really strong for the city, so that we can continue to benefit from some of the things the university gives the city,” Hamou said.

A topic that came up during the process of filling the vacant Ward 6 seat was whether its appointed councillor would seek re-election in 2022, with some councillors voicing concerns that they’d be granting an incumbency advantage to whomever takes the seat.

Story continues below advertisement

Hamou says while she felt “a little bit weird” being appointed to office, she plans to run during London’s next municipal election.

“I can’t wait to be judged by the people of my ward for the work that I’ve done and that hopefully I can do in the future,” Hamou added.

Read more:
Blackfriars Bridge to reopen to vehicular traffic as London city council awaits study

Now the first Muslim woman to serve on London’s city council, Hamou hopes her place in municipal office will inspire others.

“I was born in Canada, yet I’m Muslim, so I’ve always had this otherness to me and I didn’t think that these positions were open to me, but now I know they are,” Hamou said.

“I just want everybody who sees themselves in me to go for it. Just do it.”

Focus Ontario: ‘Election Already Underway?’

Focus Ontario: ‘Election Already Underway?’

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Most Popular

Hours on hold. No customer support. WestJet passenger voices frustration after itinerary change

Craig Herman was looking forward to escaping the grey skies and enjoying a winter holiday in the sun. Back in October, the Castlegar, B.C. resident...

Struggling Vancouver Canucks hope Boudreau can kickstart dismal season

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini says he may have been “too patient” in waiting for the struggling NHL team to turn its season around. His...

Hawaii braces for ‘catastrophic flooding’ as storm brings heavy rain, knocks out power

A strong storm packing high winds and extremely heavy rain flooded roads and knocked out power across Hawaii, with officials warning Monday of potentially...

Unvaccinated staff at Ontario correctional centre placed on unpaid leave amid COVID outbreak

More than 100 unvaccinated staff at an Ontario jail have been placed on unpaid leave amid a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, their union...