(The Global and mail) - Ahmed Hussen became the first Somali-Canadian elected to the Canadian parliament. Mr. Hussen, a Somali-Canadian lawyer and community activist, arrived in Canada in 1993 while Somalia was in the midst of a civil war that sent thousands of Somalis seeking refuge to countries such as Canada, Britain and the United States.
The international community grappled with how to respond to the Somali crisis, and Canadian soldiers served with forces led by the United Nations and the United States to help restore peace – an effort that was mired in controversy and widely seen as a failure.
Mr. Hussen settled in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, a series of low-rise buildings built in the postwar period, designated for social housing and later seen as a poorly planned project with high levels of deprivation.
He co-founded the Regent Park Community Council, which represented the voices of the neighbourhood’s 15,000 residents. He lobbied for hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in the local community as part of the $1-billion Regent Park revitalization project that has seen the low-rise blocks demolished and replaced with glass condominium towers, galleries and new recreation facilities.
Mr. Hussen, a father of two who graduated from the University of Ottawa law school in 2011 and was called to the Ontario bar in 2012, also has a long-time connection with the Liberal Party in Ontario, working as a special assistant to former premier Dalton McGuinty.
He also has deep roots in the Somali-Canadian community, serving as president of the Canadian Somali Congress and speaking out on issues including the violent deaths of Somali youth in Alberta.
Canadians of Iranian heritage were also celebrating on Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday as two Iranian Canadians were elected in the Toronto area.
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