Somali Centre Deemed Not Black Enough: Canadian Government

Abdirizak Karod and Mohamoud Hagi-Aden, founders of the Somali Centre for Family Services in Ottawa were stunned to learn they were deemed not Black enough after their application for a government-funded program was rejected.

Leaders of a Somali organization in Ottawa say their relationship with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) was severely damaged after the ministry rejected its request for funding, arguing their organization was not black enough.

The Centre applied for federal funding called the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative last summer. They wanted the fund to improve their office equipment to better help their community.

The funding was intended for community organizations serving black communities and whose leaders self-identified as Black.

After an initial outcry, ESDC returned a second letter indicating that the Centre’s request had been rejected because “ESDC did not receive the information necessary to move your request forward.”

Ironically, the ESDC is headed by Minister Hussen Ahmed, himself from Somalia.

On his Twitter account, the minister deemed the reason given for the rejection “totally unacceptable” and pledged to correct the situation.

The Somali Center is among other black-led organizations that have received similar rejection letters.

For the organization, the minister’s tweet does not go far enough and such a situation does not inspire confidence in the government’s initiative to improve black communities.

AbdiQani Badar

AbdiQani Badar is a historian, political commentator and avid writer. He has written extensively on Somali issues and historical events.