Saeed Mohamed, Program Analyst, Indigenous Relations

As a U of T student taking a program that involved studies in public policy, and community development, Saeed Mohamed never imagined that he’d be able to realize his passion for removing barriers faced by marginalized communities in a government agency or in the electricity industry.

When it came time to apply for a second co-op work term, however, Saeed landed a placement on the IESO’s Indigenous Relations team. It was this exposure to the IESO’s funding programs, which support community capacity building, including energy planning and renewable energy project development, that helped him make the connection.

“When I joined the IESO as a co-op student, I learned about all of the funding programs, and quickly understood their importance in promoting equitable participation in the sector,” he says. “I also had the opportunity to contribute to the organization’s inaugural First Nations Energy Symposium, which brought together community representatives, industry stakeholders and community energy experts across the province to promote and highlight Indigenous energy participation.”

While these experiences were in line with his own commitment to helping marginalized communities gain access to the support they need, Saeed says it was a trip to Michipicoten First Nation’s reserve land just outside Wawa that really fueled his purpose – and that continues to sustain him four years later.

“As a co-op student in 2017, I had the opportunity to spend two days in the community, and that was really a life-changing experience,” Saeed says. “Hearing about their challenges first-hand, and getting to interact with community members stays with you – it connects you to the people and their issues, and connects you to your job in a whole new way.”

Today, as the analyst for the Community Energy Champion (CEC) Program, which provides funding to enable communities and organizations to hire a dedicated energy resource, Saeed remains inspired by what’s next.

“The ability to work on initiatives that help our CECs hit the ground running, and that link them with their peers in other communities, give them new skills and equip them to achieve their goals is truly rewarding,” he says. “My co-op placement at the IESO may have opened doors for me, but it’s the opportunity to continue to make a difference that keeps me motivated and engaged.”