The Vaughan Secondary School was renamed Hodan Nalayeh Secondary School last week after the York Region District School Board trustees voted 10-2 in favour.
Hodan Nalayeh was a Somali-Canadian media executive, a community activist, and an entrepreneur who had lost her life in the Asasey Hotel Attack in Kismayo, Somalia, in 2019.
Among several other talents, Hodan was an inspiring storyteller who concentrated on education and perseverance in Somali society.
She was a symbol whose uplifting humour and positive attitude inspired confidence and hope in the future of Somalia.
Her tireless effort to reinforce relations between the Somali diaspora and their motherland encouraged many to return and invest in Somalia.
Today, her life and work are memorialized by the renaming of the Vaughn Secondary School. It is the first secondary school to be renamed after a Muslim and a person of colour with the York Region District School Board in Toronto.
Hodan believed that education was the secret to progress in protecting your interests and motivating future generations.
Hodan has been active in charitable and advocacy activities for the Somali community and was the embodiment of all that we love, from Somali solidarity, freedom of expression to empowering women and youth.
By naming a school after Hodan, a Toronto citizen, Canadians recognize the need to celebrate contributions outstanding individuals like Hodan brought to their country.
For black Canadians, especially those of African descent who were brought to America as slaves, it is comforting to see the name of a sweet-hearted woman born in Africa replace a British slave owner. It is a hope that civilization is tilting in the right direction.
The Somali community, in unison with her family, is still mourning her loss and all those innocent people killed in that senseless attack in Kismayo, Somalia.