A national dialogue has emerged in Canada on how the country can do a better job of combating racism and discrimination.
Ahmed Hussen has proven to be a prominent voice in this dialogue.
Hussen was Canada’s previous immigration minister having served in the role for nearly three years between January 2017 until November 2019.
Following Canada’s election last fall, Hussen was appointed as Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
Canada’s openness to diversity was on full display when Hussen became immigration minister.
Hussen’s identity—he is a black man, Somali immigrant, Muslim, and former refugee—was yet another reminder of the opportunities that are made available to Canada’s immigrants.
Hussen once proudly stated during an Aljazeera television interview that “only in Canada” could a person with his story rise to become the person responsible for welcoming future immigrants to the country.
Prior to entering federal politics, minister Hussen was a lawyer and community activist in Toronto and practiced immigration and refugee law.
One of his notable achievements as immigration minister was re-introducing multi-year immigration levels plans in Canada so that the country could better support higher levels of immigration in the future.
Since the George Floyd murder, Hussen has featured in television interviews and protests seeking to draw awareness on the importance of fighting racism in Canada.
In a television interview with Canadian media outlet CTV, Hussen noted that despite his stature in Canadian society, he still gets followed around in stores and feels nervous when he sees a police car while driving.
Speaking on the Floyd murder footage, Hussen told CTV it was “shocking, painful, and disturbing” to watch and he has struggled to have a conversation with his three young sons about the murder.
In a Toronto Star interview, Hussen outlined recommendations for improvement.
The first step is to declare and define that racism is a problem for the likes of Blacks, Indigenous peoples, and others in Canada.
Giving people who have been discriminated against with a platform to share their voice will help to eradicate the problem, said Hussen. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently participated in a protest in Ottawa, alongside Hussen.
The second step is to empower people within communities across Canada to tackle racism, by providing them with the resources they need to do so.
For example, the federal government is collecting more data by race so that it can identify how to deliver targeted solutions based on race.
Another measure that Hussen has championed is name-blind hiring practices for federal government jobs so that federal government hiring managers can hire candidates free from bias.
Minister Hussen stated that it is crucial to continue to have anti-racism conversations in Canada today, so that future generations of Canadians do not have to grapple with racism, and to make Canada an even better country than what it currently is.
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