Skip to navigationSkip to content

Canada voted in its first Somali-born member of parliament

(Ahmed Hussein campaign)
The first of many?
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Lawyer and social activist, Ahmed Hussein of the Liberal Party, last week became the first Canadian of Somali heritage to get voted into national parliament.

Born and raised in Somalia, Hussein  immigrated to Canada in 1993. He has long career as a social activist. Currently, he serves as the national president of the Canadian Somali Congress—a Somali community organization that works with national and regional authorities to advocate on issues of importance to Canadians of Somali heritage and strengthen civic engagement and integration, according to his campaign website.

He was voted in with the Liberal’s sweeping victory which took leader Justin Trudeau to power as Canada’s next prime minister.

Canada has one of the highest immigration rates per capita in the world and hosts one of the largest communities of Somalis outside of Somalia. However, a study done on Canada’s 2011 election showed multiculturalism has not been fully reflected  in terms of racial diversity. Only 28 members, a merely 9.1% of the chamber’s membership of 308 in 2011, were identified as minority representatives.

This year, the total number of elected lawmakers, described as non-British or non-French were 46—13.6% of the total of 338 seats in 2015.

Somalis are often described as one of the most disenfranchised and insular immigrant communities across the globe. In many cases they have found it particularly difficult to integrate into the countries to with they’ve immigrated from their war-torn country. This is the case in Canada where they are among the poorest, despite being one of the largest African diaspora communities in Canada.

While success stories of Somali immigrants like Ahmed Hussein’s are rare in the West, It’s worth noting that Hussein’s election coincides with the rise of a new generation of politically-savvy Somali diaspora on social media.

Many Somalis have termed the 2015 election, historic.

“Ahmed Hussen’s election is historic event for Somali-Canadian community in Canada. It is an achievement long overdue since Somalis …never had any voice in Canadian politics despite their highly visible presence in the country,” said Ismael Warsame, a Toronto-based Somali journalist.

After Hussein was announced winner, social media especially Twitter went abuzz with congratulatory message with many Somalis across feeling part of the victory.

In his victory tweet, Hussein thanked the residents for voting him in.

Also running for office in the federal election were two other Canadians of Somali heritage. Abdul Abdi of conservative was going for Ottawa West Nepean while Faisal Hassan of NDP was running for Etobicoke North. However, both men have lost to Liberal candidates.

🌍 Keep up with developments and emerging industries in Africa.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.