Saturday, April 17, 2010


Police chief, social workers say communities must take threat seriously

By Amira Elghawaby, The Ottawa CitizenApril 17, 2010

The city’s visible-minority youths are being targeted by gangs, warns Ottawa’s police chief, and social workers fear things will get much worse if their ethnic communities don’t take the problem more seriously.

In particular, Chief Vern White says these communities are in the crosshairs of drug-dealing networks that exist in particular neighbourhoods.

“Specific gangs or gang members focus on lower-income housing and they are looking for people who don’t otherwise have strong support systems in their communities,” he explained in an interview. “That does end up targeting new Canadians and minority communities.”

With recent headlines highlighting the murders of close to two dozen Somali youths in Alberta over the past few years, some of whom came from Ontario, Farah Aw-Osman says he isn’t surprised. What alarms the long-time social worker, though, is very few people in either the Somali or Muslim communities are taking this seriously.

“If we don’t pay attention to the challenges that (young people) are facing, then we are ignoring a large segment of our community,” he says, noting that ethnic and faith-based communities are often completely unprepared to deal with issues such as drug dependency.

As head of the Canadian Friends of Somalia, and with funding from Health Canada, Aw-Osman has run workshops for Somali parents and youths about how to identify the signs of drug dependency. But he says much more work needs to be done on a gamut of problems, including religious radicalization and a small but growing number of suicides among young girls.

Considering that the Somali community has been a presence in Ottawa for close to two decades, questions about why many of its members continue to struggle in low-income housing need to be answered first, says Mohamed Sofa, a Somali youth worker who grew up in Ottawa. “We are looking for people who are looking at long-term development and research,” says Sofa.

A community health worker with Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, Sofa says the Somali community has faced particular challenges.

He points to a report by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa in 2006 that showed 61 per cent of Somalis live in poverty and 64 per cent of the community is under the age of 24.

The last time a concerted, city-wide effort was made to look at the challenges facing Somali youth was back in 2001, says Sofa, when a task force was struck by then-mayor Bob Chiarelli.

Since then, Sofa says, social providers seem to have been working in “silos.” Now, it’s time for a broader coalition to arm itself with information.

“There is a change right now that is coming and that we’ll see more (academic) papers being written about some of the issues,” he says, hopefully, with his own plans to involve Carleton University in a needs assessment for Ottawa’s Somali youth, women and seniors in the near future

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Somali Delegation’s Visit to Canada

On July 10-20,2007 Somali Minister of Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Ali M. Hareed, Somali Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellence Mohamed Ali (America), Somali Ambassador to India, Her Excellence Ebyan Salah, Somali Ambassador to South Korea, Her Excellence Hareedo Mohamed stayed on Working visit to Canada, during which they met high-ranking officials from Canadian Foreign Affairs and Canadian International Development Agency.

A meeting with Canadian high-ranking officials from Foreign Affairs and CIDA The delegations and the Canadian officials discussed bilateral relations and exchanged ideas on how to best approach the many challenges facing the East African nation. The meetings addressed many issues of global concern to both nations including global security, good governance, reconstruction and how Canada can lend a hand in the current humanitarian and development challenges facing Somalia. Mutual readiness for continued buildup of engagement in the fields of international security and the combating of terrorism, and other threats and challenges was reiterated.

Also further steps to expand the Somali-Canadian relations and strengthen the two countries' engagement in international affairs were outlined. A meeting with the E-Director of Oxfam Canada Mr. Fox, Robert While the delegations were in Canada they met with the local Diaspora community. They updated the community about the current social, political, security and
humanitarian challenges facing Somalia. They encouraged the Diaspora community to be good ambassadors for their country and rally behind the current reconciliation congress.

They further encouraged the community to fully participate in the Canadian social and political activities in order to be a productive and loyal citizen of this land. Meeting with Yemen Ambassador His Excellence Dr. Abdalla Al-Nasher The delegations were thankful to all those organizations and individuals who welcomed them and facilitated their visit. They are particularly grateful to officials from Canadian Friends of Somalia, an Ottawa based non-profit Organization, who welcomed the delegations and facilitated their meetings with other officials while in Ottawa.

Meeting with Ethiopian Ambassador His Excellence Hammusa They are also grateful to all other organizations and individuals from Toronto who put together a fantastic and unforgettable party on a sailing boat. They are particularly thankful to Former First Lady Nuurto Haji, Mohamed Hilowle, Ing. Osman Dheere, Batuulo Sh.Ahmed, Nasro William, Khadro A.Jaqaf, Hodan H.Dhiiqo, Sadiyo Suuhaye, Khadra Adawe, Hodan A. Jama, Dhabaryare, Mohamed
Ahmed, Muse Kulow and many others who have shown a great respect and warm

Tsunami’s Forgotten Victims

On Saturday January the 8th, the Canadian Friends of Somalia, a non-profit organization based
in Ottawa, hosted a fundraising dinner for the Somali victims of the tsunami in Jim Durrrel arena.

The event was attended by many notable members of our community including the mayor of the city of Ottawa, Bob Chiarelli, the deputy chief of Ottawa police, Larry Hill, Monia Mazigh, Allen Riddle and a host of former city councillors including Alex Munter. Both The Premier of Ontario Dalton McGunty and Jack Layton, the leader of New Democratic Party, sent their regrets in writing.

The urgency of the situation and the lack of international support was the overall theme of the fundraising dinner. The UN has stated several times that the Somali victims of the tsunami have been forgotten by the International community. The situation in Somalia could become dire considering the lack of governmental infrastructure in the region. This why, the international community must act quickly to help the victims in Somalia.

The funds raised at the dinner went to Oxfam-Canada’s Horn of Africa program. Ms. Andrea
Lindores, the coordinator of the horn of Africa program for Oxfam-Canada, spoke about her organisation’s efforts and its commitment to the long-term improvement of the situation in the Horn of Africa, particularly the region affected by the tsunami.

Mr. Farah Aw-Osman, the executive director of Canadian friends of Somalia, was proud of the outpouring of Canadian support that he and hiorganisation received for the fundraising dinner. By the end of the night more then $20,000 was raised.

If you would like to donate to the victims of the tsunami in Somali please send all your donations
to Oxfam-Canada and clearly indicate that it is for Somalia

Muslimlink, January 2005

Somali Minister of Diaspora Affaires official visit to Ottawa, Canada

Somali Minister of Diaspora Affaires, Hon Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle Azhari and Somali Ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Mohamed Ali Nur Americo, concluded two days official visit to Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday April 01, 2009.

On Tuesday March 31, 2009, the Somali Delegation were received as guests of the House of the Commons and were acknowledged in a full house session of the Canadian Parliament during question period, where the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament, Hon Peter Milliken, announced “I would like to draw to the attention of Honorable Members the presence in the gallery of Honorable Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle, the Minister of Diaspora Affaires for Somalia and H.E. Mohamed Ali Nur, the Somali Ambassador to Keny a“. After the Speaker’s announcement, the full house of members of the parliaments rouses up to honor the Somali Delegation.

On Wednesday April 01, 2009, Hon Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle Azhari and H.E. Mohamed Ali Nur Americo, held a two hour meeting with a 15 member contingent of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Somali Delegation were invited to a lunch reception inside the Canadian Parliament and was attended by Parliamentarians, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and also elders from the Somali Diaspora Community.

According to the Canadian Officials and the Somali Delegation, the two days visit was very productive. “I conveyed to the Canadian official the urgency of the situation in Somalia, and what the immediate needs of the government are. I found them to be well informed”, said by Somali Minister of Diaspora Affaires, Hon Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle Azhari. Added Ambassador Mohamed Ali Nur Americo “Canadian Foreign Officials are for the first time on the wave length as us. We briefed them on the present needs of reconciliation, security and capacity building, and they indicated that they will be full partners with us.”

On the evening of Wednesday April 01, 2009, the Somali delegation were invited to a reception organized by the Somali community in Ottawa, were the Ambassador and the Minister had a frank discussion and consultations with community. The meeting was facilitated by Farah Aw-Osman of Canadain Friends of Somalia.

Well and Wise

In Ottawa like any other city in Canada , the elderly population is growing faster than all other age groups. Minority Elders are facing double discrimination when trying to access services. They are lucking of knowledge about the availability of services, scarcity of interpretation services and translated material is another barrier, not to mention insufficient of official language skills, restrictions on movement outside home, poor health, luck of physical activities, poor housing, and most importantly luck of spaces, effective programs and services.

Therefore, the aim of this project is to fight isolation that individuals from Somali Elders are falling into, it will reach the most impossible to reach elders, it will give culturally sensitive spaces, and offer the care, services and the support that they elderly population requires.

Furthermore it will encourage local government to be more aware of those group's needs and to take more notice of the services organizations like ours is doing for our elderly population.

Second Somali Awareness Night at Parliament Hill

On December 11th, 2006 CFS prepared another conference in order to refocus the distinguished guests, and the general public about the nation of Somalia. CFS wanted to address the challenges the Somalis face within their nation.

The conference discussed the following issues:
  • Opportunities and Challenges of NGO's and IGO's in Fragile States,
  • Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Somali Women in War
  • Peacemaking, Religion and Peace-building,
  • Innocence Lost: The Effects of War on Children,
  • Role of Diaspora Community in Reconciliation\Reconstruction efforts,
  • Role of Media in War-making and Peace-keeping
The objective of the conference was not only to spread awareness but also make powerful and unforgettable changes that can allow Somalis to become more stabilized.

First Official Somali Awareness Night at Parliament Hill

On December 6, 2004 Canadian Friends of Somalia invited distinguished guest such as ambassadors from Sweden, Italy, China, and the United States and other nations, elected officials from the Parliament. Somali community members from Ottawa and Toronto, and the general public to make them aware of the nation of Somalia.

The aim was to make the public aware of difficulties that Somalis face within their nation because of civil war. Or even the need of humanitarian aid so that there is an opportunity for a better quality of life.

CFS believes that with better understanding comes the chance to make a difference. It wanted to make a stronger connection for the friendly relation between Canadians and Somali Canadians.

Tsunami Fundraising

It is a devastating reality that in 2004 Boxing Day Eastern Somalia also referred to “Puntland State” was struck by a tsunami. CFS wanted to make a difference by providing humanitarian aid to alleviate human suffering.

CFS prepared a fundraising in order to provide individuals who were affected by the tsunami with basic needs such shelter, food, and reconstruction of homes. Also to provide support so that survivors can regain economic stability.

The aim of CFS is to mobilize the power of humanity in Somalia and around the world. CFS partnered with Oxfam Canada. Oxfam Canada delivered the funds to Eastern Somalia so that Somalians could have a better quality of life after the tsunami.

Drought Fundraising:

Drought can have serious health, social, economic, and international impacts which make the conditions within the nation unbearable. Consequently, it can destroy food sources and sometimes famine can occur.

With drought striking Southern and Central Somalia in early 2006 CFS wanted to make a difference and provide humanitarian aid. In collaboration with Oxfam Canada and Somalia Graduate Network CFS was able to raise $6,000. Also Oxfam not only added donations to the money raised but delivered it those who were overwhelmed with the effects of the drought. CFS believes in making a positive change in the world through humanitarian aid and strengthening the country with prosperity.


Canadian Friends of Somalia welcomes the appointment of Prime Minister Omar A. A.Sharmarke as Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and expresses the hope that the new unity government will continue and reinvigorate the reconciliation process. The quick approval of his nomination by the Somali parliament suggests that a full-fledged new government can start taking measures to stabilize the country.
Canadian Friends of Somalia and other diaspora organizations already have excellent working relations with Mr. Sharmarke," said Mr.Aw-Osman "We are encouraged by the fact that Mr. Sharmarke, as a Somali-Canadian from Ottawa, and an expert in international development, will be sensitive to the international implications of events in Somalia."

We have every faith that Prime Minister Sharmarke will serve the interests of all Somalis and stand for a strong Somalia, respectful of all its citizens, and committed to doing its part in the fight against injustice and corruption.

we strongly recommend the new prime minister to reach out to other stakeholders who were absent from Djibouti peace process namely Puntland, Somaliland and Islamic resistance groups in the south. We wish PM Sharmarke a great success in tackling the challenges that lie ahead of him, and would like to emphasize that the Canadian Friends of Somalia will continue to be a partner and supporter of the development of a secure, stable and propose Somalia.
We look forward to working closely with this new Government and stand ready to offer our assistance and expertise on issues of concern, not just to the diaspora community, but to all Somalis.
Farah Aw-Osman