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Somali refugee becomes Canada’s Minister of Immigration

27th Jan 2017

Amira Al-Hooti

Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-born Canadian, who arrived in Canada in 1993 as a refugee from Mogadishu has been appointed to the role of Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Hussen was born in Somalia and fled to Toronto only at the age of 16 leaving behind a country devastated by war. Hussen is MP for Riding of York South-Weston. A lawyer and social activist, he has a proven track record of leadership and community empowerment.

Hussen takes over from John McCallum, who is now an envoy to China .Hussen took to twitter to express his gratitude. ‘Honoured to be named Minister @CitlmmCanada Looking forward continue work led by @HonJohnMcCallum Thanks for your service to ’. His tweet received a massive 519 likes and 242 re-tweets.

‘Congratulations to my dear friend @AhmedHussenLib ! I know you will continue to improve the #cdnimm system. All the best!’ tweeted former Minister, McCallum.

Hussen built a life for himself in Toronto, attending York University and later studying at the University of Ottawa where he obtained a degree in Law. He has worked in several areas of law from criminal defence to human rights, as well as immigration and refugee law.

Being appointed as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship appears to be quite fitting due to his professional and personal experiences, both in practising immigration and refugee law, but also having got on board a journey familiar to him that many immigrants take. He will be able to empathise and understand their circumstances on a deeper level.

“As Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, your overarching goal will be to reopen Canada’s doors to welcome those who want to contribute to our country’s success. Canadians are open, accepting, and generous – qualities that should be reflected in Canada’s immigration policies and in our approach to welcoming those seeking refuge from conflict and war. Our communities are strengthened when we come together to welcome newcomers who want to build a better Canada and to help those in need,” said Trudeau in his mandate letter to Hussen.

In the mandate, Trudeau also lists what Hussen’s top priorities will be as a Minister which includes “wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.”

According to the BBC, Mahamad Accord, a friend of the newly appointed Minister, who has known him for his contributions to the Canada Somali Congress, of which Hussen is the National President, said that Hussen has told him that “we need to change people’s perception of us”.

Trudeau has made a number of changes to his cabinet. According to Global News, a university professor of political studies, Kathy Brock, said, “He has to prepare his government to deal with the new American government coming in”.

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