Chief Moez meets Michelle Obama
BY SULTAN JESSA
Calgary – Alberta: Moez Maherali had the rare opportunity to meet former US First Lady Michelle Obama.
This meet and greet was organized by the local chamber of commerce.
“It was wonderful meeting the person I admire,” said Maherali who is originally from Arusha in Tanzania.
There is some speculation Obama may run for the highest office in the US.
Her husband Barack Obama made history when he became the first Afro-American to become President of the world’s most powerful nation.
A few years back, Maherali was conferred with a prestigious and a rare honour.
He was officially recognized and presented with the traditional headdress and Blackfoot name in a three-hour ceremony conducted within a tipi on Tsuu T’ina First Nation land.
Britain’s Prince Charles and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper are among others who have received the Blackfoot headdress honour in the past.
Tsuu T’ina (meaning a great number of people) in southern Alberta was created by Treaty 7.
This First Nation tribe is a strong and proud nation which not only possesses a remarkable cultural heritage but has also kept and preserved their traditions and culture.
When Maherali was only 13 years old, he used to help his parents Kamrudin and Gulshan Maherali in the corner store.
In his spare time, he used to deliver newspapers on a bicycle to earn extra money.
This was my first official contact with Maherali, who recently played a big role in organizing the second Ismaili Reunion of former Arusha residents held in Calgary.
I was a correspondent of the Nation newspapers and several other newspapers in Tanzania and Kenya.
Maherali’s dad passed away in 1968 and mother Gulshan, 87, lives in Calgary.
He initially trained as a mechanic and in 1974 migrated to Canada and eventually settled in Calgary, the oil capital of Canada.
Like many new immigrants still do, he started driving a taxi cab.
It was as a cab driver that Maherali initially came into contact with the First Nations people.
Because of his compassion for the First Nation people, it was not long before “Uncle Moez” became a trusted confidant and an individual that could be depended on.
In 1978, Maherali first met Austrian-born Erika at someone’s wedding party and later married her.
The couple has two girls, Nimet and Nadia.
The trust he gained from first Nations people led him to work directly for the Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) First Nation.
He later moved on to work for Treaty 7 Tribal Council, the representative group for all of the First Nations in Southern Alberta.
With Treaty 7, Maherali progressively increased his role and responsibility within the organization from heading the medical transportation department to his current job as Chief’s liaison.
As chief’s liaison, he works directly with the Chief Executive Officer of Treaty 7.
One of his many tasks is to ensure the political direction of the chiefs and business work with harmony with each other.
I first wrote a couple of paragraphs about Maherali in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper when as a young boy he used to wake up at dawn to deliver newspapers to Arusha residents, including our own house.
I re-connected with him many years later at an Ismaili reunion in the Toronto area several years ago and have been following his achievements.
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