Somali Canadians

Somali Canadians
Total population
(44,995[1] (official NHS figure)
150,000[2] (unofficial estimate))
Regions with significant populations
Toronto · Ottawa · Calgary · Edmonton · Vancouver · Winnipeg · Hamilton
Somali · Arabic · Canadian English · Canadian French

Somali Canadians are residents and citizens of Canada of Somali ancestry.


Canada has one of the largest Somali populations in the western world. Unofficial estimates place the figure as high as 150,000.[2] The early 1990s saw an increase in the total number of Somali immigrants entering the country, with some secondary migration from the United States.

Electronic, money transfer and wholesale stores at a Somali mall in Toronto

As with many other immigrant groups in the Toronto area, Somalis have faced some barriers to employment despite including many qualified professionals. This has been attributed to enclave economies, self-employment, language unfamiliarity, and various public policies and social programs.[3][4][5] To address the issue, in 2010 the Canadian government, in coordination with the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization's Somali Youth Skills Project, set up job-preparation training and work experience programs for local Somali youth. Part of the Canadian government's Youth Employment Strategy, this initiative is intended to help youngs Somalis facing employment challenges to better access career information, develop skills, gain relevant work experience, find jobs and stay employed.[4] The Canadian Somali Congress has also teamed up with local Jewish community organizations in Ottawa and Toronto to offer mentorship opportunities to young Somali university students and professionals. The program is scheduled to span two years and takes place in various major cities across the country, partnering 130 experienced Jewish-Canadian mentors with 18- to 25-year-old Somali-Canadians.[6][7]

Following a greatly improved security situation in Somalia in 2012, many Somali residents of Canada have begun returning to Mogadishu and other parts of the country for investment opportunities and to take part in the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction process. Participating in the renovation of schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, they have played a leading role in the capital's recovery and have also helped propel the local real estate market.[8]


Journalist Hassan Abdillahi of Ogaal Radio with then MP Justin Trudeau at Seneca College (2009).

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 44,995 people in Canada reported Somali ancestry. Of those, 37,115 were Somali language speakers and 4,315 were recent immigrants.[1]

Somalis tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the province of Ontario, especially the Ottawa and Toronto areas. The Albertan cities of Calgary and Edmonton have also seen a significant increase in their respective Somali communities over the past few years. The neighbourhood of Rexdale in Toronto has one of the largest Somali populations in the country.


The Somali community in Canada is represented by various Somali-run organizations. Ahmed Hussen chairs the Canadian Somali Congress, which works closely with national and regional authorities to strengthen civic relations.[9] The Council of Somali Canadian People of Alberta oversees the Somali community organizations in Alberta.[10] Among these are the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE), which provides social, educational, recreational, cultural and religious programs and services to the Somali community in Edmonton.[11] The Somali Youth Association of Toronto/Somali Youth Coalition (SOYAT) offers various social, recreational and educational programs for Somali youth to inculcate volunteerism and leadership. It also organizes the annual Somali Youth Recognition Awards, which recognize the achievements of and contributions made to the Somali community by individual Somali youngsters.[12]

Notable individuals

See also


  1. 1 2 "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". Statcan. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  2. 1 2 "Ontario Municipal Election: Somali Canadian Prospective". Hiiraan Online. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Government of Canada Helps Somali Youth in Edmonton Prepare for Job Market". 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  5. "Small business fails to tap into immigrant talent". 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  6. "Jewish community to mentor Ottawa Somalis". 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  7. "Jewish and Somali Canadians join forces with government's help on mentoring plan". 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  8. "SOMALIA: Returning diaspora help rebuild". Heegantimes. Archived from the original on April 20, 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  9. "About Us". Canadian Somali Congress. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  10. "New council unites Alberta's Somali community". Metro. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  11. "About Us". Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  12. "Programs". SOYAT. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

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