The Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), in a release, said that they are pleased with the inclusion of Somali Canadian Ahmed Hussen as Canada’s new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reshuffled Cabinet on January 10.
Hussen takes over from John McCallum who has been appointed as Canada’s ambassador to China.
“Ahmed has shown he is a hard worker, very committed to his constituents as well as the larger African Canadian community,” JCA’s president Adaoma Patterson said. “I think he will bring an important perspective to the immigration file.
We look forward to working with him.”.
Hussen, a lawyer and social activist, is the Member of Parliament for York South-Weston in Toronto and is the first Somali Canadian elected to Parliament.
AWARE OF REALITIES
Meanwhile, Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) says the organisation welcomes a minister who is aware of on the ground realities – that of being radicalized and one who has gone through the refugee resettlement experience.
OCASI is the umbrella organisation for immigrant and refugee-serving agencies in Ontario. A registered charity, it was founded in 1978, and has 220 member agencies across the province that provide settlement and other services for immigrants and refugees.
In a letter penned by Douglas and president, Ibrahim Absiye, OCASI congratulated Hussen on his appointment.
OCASI says it is looking to the minister’s leadership on addressing other urgent priorities recognized by the government, including addressing the challenges in the full implementation of Interim Federal Health for refugees and reducing the wait times for family sponsorship in all categories.
It also wants continued support for increasing the private sponsorship of refugees from other regions, particularly Africa, a region that is significantly under-represented in refugee selection numbers despite the tremendous need.
OCASI, in their communication, has urged the government to implement the changes promised through Bill C-6 (An Act to amend the Citizenship Act), once it is enacted.
“We look forward to engaging with you on other urgent priorities such as providing pathways to permanent residency as a way of addressing the deepening vulnerability of migrant workers in the many low-skilled streams, and finding ways and opportunities to regularize those without immigration status,” the letter says.
The organisation says it looks forward to engaging with Minister Hussen on long-term priorities for immigrant and refugee settlement and integration and building future sector stability through sustained and stable investment.
Born and raised in Somalia, Hussen came to Canada in 1993 as a 16-year-old refugee, attended high school in Hamilton and eventually settled in Regent Park where he became active in community engagement.
In 2002 he co-founded the Regent Park Community Council and was able to secure the $500 million revitalization project of Regent Park, all while ensuring the interests of the area’s nearly 15,000 residents were protected.
Hussen served as the national president of the Canadian Somali Congress – a Somali community organisation that works with national and regional authorities to advocate on issues of importance to Canadians of Somali heritage and strengthen civic engagement and integration.
His reputation led to an invitation to join the task force for modernizing income security for adults in the Toronto City Summit Alliance.
The new immigration, refugees and citizenship minister is fluent in English, Somali, and Swahili, and earned his B.A (History) from York University and his law degree from the University of Ottawa.
In 2004, the Toronto Star recognized him as one of ten individuals in Toronto to have made substantial contributions to our community.
Since being in Ottawa, Hussen has served on the Justice and Human Rights Committee, and the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association.