His new posting as immigration minister, thanks to Justin Trudeau’s Tuesday shuffle of his cabinet, makes Toronto MP Ahmed Hussen the country’s first cabinet minister born in Somalia, according to several news reports.
Hussen, who arrived alone to Canada from Somalia at 16 in 1993, had already made history as the first Somali-Canadian MP when elected in the riding of York South-Weston in the 2015 election.
Now Hussen — also a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights — takes over a high-profile cabinet posting from John McCallum, who will be leaving cabinet to take up a diplomatic posting to China, according to news reports.
Hussen came to Canada as a refugee from Mogadishu and moved in with his brother in the Regent Park area of Toronto after finishing high school in Hamilton, Ont. After graduating from York University he began his work in government in Dalton McGuinty’s office, continuing on as McGuinty moved from opposition leader to Ontario premier.
While working at Queen’s Park Hussen helped form the Regent Park Community Council, which advocated for community residents during the neighbourhood’s $500-million revitalization project. He followed his time in provincial politics to serve as president of the Canadian Somali Congress and left his Weston-based law practice to head to Parliament Hill after Trudeau’s federal election win in late 2015.
Hussen will take over a ministry that plans to accept 300,000 new permanent residents to Canada in 2017.