TORONTO -- Yaphet Yoseph is shooting for the moon.
The grade three Toronto student wants to be the first Black-Canadian in space.
“In total, we’ve had, I believe, 13 African-Americans out of 550 [astronauts] to go to outer space,” Yaphet said.
“We need more!”
Yaphet said he has admired Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, since he was in kindergarten.
“We learned about an astronaut named Chris Hadfield and I thought I want to be like Chris Hadfield,” he said.
Hadfield sent Yaphet a personalized video message this week with some words of wisdom.
“I want you to remember three things,” Hadfield said in the video addressed to the 8-year-old.
“Number one is always be pursuing your dreams. Dream of things and then change who you are to become closer to them. The second is listen to people who know what they’re talking about - listen to your teachers, listen to the experts and try and learn from them and listen to your parents. The third is be good to the people around you, be good to yourself.”
Not long after, Yaphet met a few more of his favourite Canadians.
Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister of families, children and social development, caught wind of Yaphet’s story and wanted to surprise him with a few friends on a Zoom call.
“In addition to Marc Garneau, your hero and the first Canadian in space, I also brought Jeremy Hansen... who could be the first Canadian to travel to the moon in 2023,” Hussen said while speaking to Yaphet, his sister, and his parents, who immigrated to Canada from Eritrea.
Garneau and Hansen answered Yaphet’s questions and shared some of their experiences.
“Great to listen to you and your questions. It’s always inspiring to meet young Canadians, especially with minds like yours,” Hansen said.