Royal Bank of Canada gives away annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant award every year. This year, three Somali Canadians have made to its 75 finalists list. To choose its TOP 25 recipients, RBC has combiled the names and bios of all 75. Here at All Things Somali, we picked the three Somalis for you. And as it happened, each voter is allowed to vote for THREE people! So remember, you can vote for up to 3 finalists. Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to vote for their favorites and help choose RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2017. READ Biographies below and click here to vote for them. Make sure to look for the three Somali! VOTE HERE
Abdikheir Ahmed is the founder and director at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, housed at the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. In this role, he works with all three levels of government, as well as community groups and the private sector in developing initiatives, partnerships and progressive policies to create more inclusive communities for newcomer immigrants and refugees in Winnipeg.
He is the previous executive director at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM Inc.), a non-profit that provides transitional housing and settlement supports to newly arrived refugee families. He was instrumental in developing collaborations with various stakeholders that led to the development of new crime prevention, youth and asset-building programming for newcomer families, as well as securing $11 million in funds for a second housing complex for refugees.
Ahmed has taught a number of university courses in the areas of social work, human rights on refugee issues and community development. He also co-authored a chapter in a book that looked at changes in federal immigration and citizenship policies, as well their impact on the health and wellbeing of refugees in Manitoba and in Canada.
Ahmed is also regularly featured in the local and national media. He has spoken on newcomer issues, poverty, homelessness, crime prevention and community development. He has also spoken at various local, national and international conferences and conventions.
Ahmed is a strong advocate for refugees and refugee claimants, and a tireless community leader who spends countless volunteer hours supporting refugee claimants. He himself came to Canada in 2006 as a refugee claimant from Somalia. When he arrived in Winnipeg, he had very humble beginnings, working as a night baker, and struggling for many years to bring his wife and young family, then living as refugees in Kenya, to Winnipeg.
Ahmed has three young sons and is very active in their lives, and advocates for other youth as well. He is co-chair of the Newcomer Education Coalition’s advocacy committee and the co-chair of the UMOJA newcomer/police advisory group. Furthermore, he mentors and supports many marginalized and at-risk newcomer youth who are struggling with issues including gang involvement, addictions, homelessness and mental health issues.
Ahmed is also committed to building strong relationships between newcomers and the Indigenous community. He has worked on various grassroots projects with groups such as Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, Métis Friendship Centres, and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, in order to develop positive connections and overcome prejudice between these groups.
Ahmed sits on various boards including Humankind International, Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA), IRCOM and the End Homelessness Winnipeg Board. Ahmed previously sat on the Premier of Manitoba’s Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship for four years. In this role, he provided policy advice to the premier’s office on these issues
For all his efforts, Ahmed is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Order of the Buffalo Hunt by the Premier of Manitoba in recognition of his role in contributing to the creation of inclusive communities for newcomers in Manitoba in 2016. He was also voted one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 Finalists in 2015, among several other recognitions.
He was awarded the Great Friend to Kids award by the Manitoba Children’s Museum 2011, for his work supporting and advocating for the needs of immigrant and refugee children in Manitoba.
He received the Citizenship Sward by Winnipeg Police Services for outstanding commitment to supporting the Winnipeg police and citizens of Winnipeg.
Ahmed holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Winnipeg in international development studies and a master’s degree from the University of Queensland in Peace Studies.
Mohammed Ahmed is an Olympic middle and long-distance runner, who represented Canada at the Rio Olympics in 2016. He trains with the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club in Oregon, and recently spoke out in an op/ed about the U.S. travel ban from the perspective of a Canadian Muslim immigrant who travels between the two countries.
Since his graduation from university two years ago, Somali-born Ahmed has competed around the world representing Canada. He finished fourth in the 5,000-metre race at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in so doing he set a new Canadian record. This was the best finish for a Canadian runner in this event in history. He also won the Pan American Games 10,000-metre race in 2015.
The 26-year-old is a role model for all young Canadians, refugees and immigrants in particular. He is looked up to, not only for his athletic achievements, but his contribution to his chosen sport and community. When he comes home to St. Catharines, Ontario, he goes to local practices and competitions to encourage other athletes. He has spoken in schools in Vancouver, St. Catharines and with the Ontario Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships, encouraging young people to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
When Ahmed was an infant, his family fled Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1991. Between 1991 and 2001, his family spent time in Kenya and Ethiopia in refugee camps. In 2001, his mother and her four sons came to St. Catharines, Ontario. The father reunited with the family six to seven years later. The family has since become Canadian citizens. In the absence of his father, Ahmed as the oldest sibling and his mother faced many challenges.
After graduating from secondary school, Ahmed attended the University of Wisconsin on a full athletic scholarship. He graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While at Wisconsin, Ahmed became one of the most decorated All-American Athletes in the history of the University of Wisconsin. He has been recognized more than once as the City of St. Catharines Male Athlete of the Year. He has recently been recognized by the Niagara Sport Commission as the 2016 Niagara Male Athlete of the Year for the Greater Niagara Region.
Beyond his running career, Ahmed would like to attend law school in hopes of being able to make a difference in issues exactly like the travel ban he has spoken out about.
Ahmed D. Hussen is a Canadian politician and a lawyer. He was elected in the 2015 federal election and is proud to represent the riding of York South-Weston in the Canadian parliament. In 2017, he was appointed the minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Hussen immigrated to Canada in 1993 from Somalia and settled in Toronto. After attending high school, Hussen started working with the Hamilton-Wentworth social services department where he began his career in public service. Upon his return to Toronto in 1997 and subsequently studying at York University, he co-founded the Regent Park Community Council. As the president of this organization, Hussen played a key role in securing the $500 million revitalization project for the Regent Park while advocating for the 15,000 residents to ensure that their interests were protected. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for his leadership efforts in the Regent Park Community.
Serving as national president for the Canadian Somali Congress, Hussen worked with national and regional authorities to advocate on important issues to Canadians of Somali heritage, strengthening civic engagement and integration. His results-driven reputation led to an invitation from the Toronto City Summit Alliance to join the task force for modernizing income security for adults. As a result of his advocacy work, the Toronto Star recognized Hussen as one of 10 individuals in Toronto to have made substantial contributions to our community. Hussen also worked as a special assistant for intergovernmental affairs to former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and has sat on the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security.
After earning a law degree from the University of Ottawa faculty of law, Hussen practised law in the areas of criminal defence, immigration and refugee law, and human rights. He has served as a director on the board of the Global Enrichment Foundation, an organization that has enabled women in East Africa to access education in colleges and universities in the region. He has also served on the board of Journalists for Human Rights, an organization that empowers journalists in developing countries to cover human rights and governance issues objectively and effectively. In parliament, Hussen sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee and the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and is a strong voice for his constituency.
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