Hamilton – May 17, 2019
Despite his accomplishments, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is not inoculated against racism.
The Somali born lawyer turned politician is not however fazed by pockets of racism in Canadian polity.
“Go back to your country” is an expression used by those who believe the other person does not belong because of their religion, color, language, dressing and country of birth amongst others.
Ahmed Hussen shared his experience on racism with students of his alma mater, Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School during a talk on why Immigration Matters.
The last question posed to the minister was whether he had experienced racism in Canada. He answered in the affirmative and recounted an experience on Capital Hill a week prior.
On the day, people were marching on the front lawn of the Parliament. The main street was closed. The minister with staff member had to make their way through the crowd as they tried to go from the east block to the west block.
“One young man saw me and a little surprised. The young man shouted ‘Minister Hussen go back to your country.’”
The minister said this type of behavior happens. “But I can tell you something. My attitude is that to be in public life you need to have a thick skin.” He takes things in strides. “What makes me happy is that person or people like that do not represent Canadians. It is a very small fraction.”
“Racism is true in every country and society but the vast majority of Canadians are not only accepting of others but are the most generous to others,” he stated.
“Do you guys know this year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary since Canada opened its door to privately sponsored refugees? Since then, in the last 40 years over 2 million Canadians have personally sponsored a refugee.”
“Tell me which other country can say that. No other country can say that. That is an amazing demonstration of Canada’s generosity which is the envy of some other countries,” said Ahmed Hussen.