Born in Antwerp, Belgium, with family roots in Sudan, Fateh Ahmed now calls Halifax home. With degrees in business and IT, he came to the city to study sound recording at NSCC and filmmaking at the Centre for Arts and Technology where he now works as a program manager.
His first passion was music and music composition. Working in film allows him to keep the connection to that early passion. “If you look at my artistic journey, it started out with musical scoring and composing,” he explains. “I thought, well, why not make my own films and score my own music? I can interpret the moods and the feel of what I truly want to convey.”
His first film, Ummah Masjid (a Nation of a Mosque), was a half-hour documentary about a small community trying to establish its own place of worship. More recently, he produced Pushed Out, a social economic documentary exploring the issues of gentrification in Halifax’s North End and its impact on low-income families.
What did the documentary Pushed Out teach you about Halifax?
Living in Canada, and just to have the ability to voice your opinion, that is an incredibly valuable option to have. I have friends of mine on Facebook that I have seen who got shot in the head just because they were filming a demonstration and that was just in the last few days. It also taught me as well that different social classes, intellectuals, people can actually sit and interact and discuss and reach reasonable conclusions. We live in Halifax as one family. If there are any topics to be discussed and concerns to be raised, then we discuss them all. And that is the most important thing.
You mentioned having policies regarding gentrification in certain areas. What would you like to see done differently in the North End?
It’s very simple…just include some of the working class, low-income households. That’s it. It’s not a complicated issue. The city does have a right to invest and the city does have a right to benefit from the property taxes. There is no blame to any social class. Middle and upper-middle classes are also welcome. These are not areas to say who is right and who is wrong. These are economic opportunities being offered for the betterment of the city.
What do you love about Halifax?
The people are kind, well educated. And the city itself, the layout of the city, it’s a small city, too. I grew up in small cities even when I was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, so the city size matches what I’ve been going through in life. My wife is from here. Her side of the family, they are wonderful people, generous people. This is what I truly like about the city.
What would you like to see done differently in the city, politically or economically?
Sustain immigrants in Nova Scotia…keep them and create possible job opportunities to make them stay and not to move on to other larger cities. I can tell you I am one of the few Sudanese here. I can count them; it’s me and my cousin and that’s it maybe. But all the rest have travelled. I remember even back in 2006…there were at least more than 100 families here. But through time many of them have left for different reasons, not all economic reasons. I would say developing business strategies or the employability to make them more employable in Nova Scotia. The province is experiencing a large influx of skilled workers that come into the province, but after that they may stay less than two years and then they start departing.
Why would that be good for Halifax?
It promotes diversity, equal opportunities. And it raises the bar… when you have a diverse community, you get the possibility of better interaction and understanding of other cultures. You get to learn a lot of what’s behind the scenes…You get to learn about their cultures, their philosophies in life. You get to live together and if we can reach the point where we can live together and truly live side by side and truly help one another that carries that sort of drive in politics and the international community. It may have a stronger influence on international politics later on by truly getting a proper understanding of other cultures.