Calgary entrepreneur and community builder Gar Akicak Gar will be speaking at Cochrane Ideas' first Zoom session of the year on Friday, Jan. 14.

Gar Gar will share his journey at Cochrane Ideas, including key elements of the conflict in Sudan and his family’s flight, highlights of the challenges he faced as a young South Sudanese refugee in Canada, and his current untiring efforts to build community, vision, and hope for the youth of South Sudanese origin in Calgary today.

Sudan has been in ongoing conflict since the 1950s. The Second Sudanese Civil War (1987-2005) resulted in over two million deaths and the displacement or orphaning of tens of thousands of children.

Despite the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the conflict continues. There are currently over 4.3 million displaced people from South Sudan.

Gar Gar arrived in Canada in 2005, a refugee from war-torn South Sudan. As a young man of late high school age when he arrived, Gar was determined to gain a strong enough foundation in English to be able to go on to higher education. His persistence paid off when he became the first member of his South Sudanese community to achieve a Bachelor of Business Administration from SAIT. Along the way, Gar also became the first Black student president of the SAIT Student Association and sat on the SAIT Board of Governors.

He has been a strong voice on several boards and committees, including the City of Calgary Immigrant Inclusion committee. His innate spirit of volunteer service and leadership has led Gar to establish various initiatives to help the less fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gar is a tireless advocate for community safety and civic engagement with a special passion for youth mental health, a commitment he is taking action on by serving as the current executive director of the Youth Empowerment and Skills (YES) Centre, as well as accepting a position as a member of the Attendance Board of Alberta.

"Doors open" for the Zoom session at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Cochrane Ideas promotes the exchange of knowledgeable and rigorous positions on a wide range of subjects. Guest speakers and discussions over the years have focused on economic, social, environmental, political, historical, biographical, creative, artistic, personal, gender-based, religious, and spiritual topics.

An open, robust, and engaging discussion follows presentations.

All interested people are welcome to attend. The necessary link information is below.

Zoom link: 
Meeting ID: 859 5558 0896
Passcode: 320855