From refugee to immigration minister: Ahmed Hussen appointed cabinet role

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A former Somali refugee is now overseeing Canada’s federal immigration policies after a cabinet shuffle Tuesday.

Ahmed Hussen, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Somalia at the age of 16, was sworn in as Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at a Rideau Hall ceremony. He replaces John McCallum, who is leaving politics and heading to Beijing as Canada’s new envoy to China.

The rookie MP for the Toronto riding of York South-Weston is also the first Somali-Canadian to hold a seat in Parliament; his election made news across the world, including on BBC Africa and Al Jazeera.

Mr. Hussen arrived in Canada as a refugee in 1993 and settled in Toronto’s Regent Park community. While he is proud of his Somali heritage, he hopes to be more than the token Somali in the Liberal cabinet.

“As members of Parliament and members of the cabinet, each of us coming into public life are informed … by their different experiences that they bring to the table. And I’m no different in that sense. I’ll bring my experience as an immigrant to Canada, but also an immigration lawyer, someone who worked many, many years before running for office as a community activist, a community organizer and a community advocate,” Mr. Hussen told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

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