Somali-Canadian Wins Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism

Bashir Ahmed of Edmonton, Alberta is the recipient of the 2013 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, announced Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

“For more than 20 years, Mr. Ahmed has worked tirelessly in both Ottawa and Edmonton to advocate the importance of multiculturalism and help integrate Somali newcomers, particularly youth, in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “I am happy to announce him as the recipient of this year’s Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism.”

The award is bestowed annually on an individual or a group who demonstrates dedication to advancing diversity, multiculturalism and the integration of newcomers into Canadian society. Individuals are nominated in one of two categories: Outstanding Achievement or Lifetime Achievement. Mr. Ahmed was recognized in the Outstanding Achievement category.

A Somali immigrant himself, Mr. Ahmed arrived in Toronto in 1989. In 1992, he began working as a volunteer with Carleton Community and Health Services in Ottawa where he would soon become a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Ahmed later founded the Association of Somali Teachers and initiated the Multicultural Liaison Program in Ottawa. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization in Edmonton, which aims to enhance the immigration experience of the Somali community and break down cultural barriers. As a result of his outstanding community leadership and advocacy on behalf of multicultural issues in Alberta, Mr. Ahmed received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012.

Mr. Ahmed, the fifth recipient of the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, was selected from 58 nominations that Citizenship and Immigration Canada received from across Canada. As the recipient, he receives a certificate of honour signed by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. In addition, a grant of $20,000 will be directed to an eligible, registered, not-for-profit Canadian organization or association of his choice. Mr. Ahmed has chosen the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization.

The Award was named for Senator Yuzyk who was a member of the Senate of Canada from February 1963 to July 1986 and played a key role in the development of Canadian multiculturalism policy. He has been called the architect of multiculturalism for his early role in achieving policy recognition for the “third force” of Canadian society; that is, those who were of neither British nor French descent.