Sunday June 28, 2020
Toronto Mayor John Tory at the flag raising ceremony for Somali Independence day/ TWITTER
Toronto (HOL) - Toronto’s Mayor raised the Somali flag at City Hall on Friday to commemorate Somali Day.
Mayor John Tory was joined by Somali-Canadian MPP Faisal Hassan and MP Yvan Baker.
Mayor John Tory said the first thing he notices about the community is the role of family, mainly Somali moms.
"I want to pay tribute to the moms because certainly when it comes to public policy issues and looking at some of the challenges faced by kids and the city as a whole, it is those groups of moms who have been profoundly impactful on me because they're so deeply committed."
Faisal Hassan, the NDP MPP for York South-Weston introduced a private member’s bill in early March to recognize June 25 to July 1 as Somali Heritage Week in Ontario.
The significance of that week is it marks the independence of Somalia from British and Italian colonization. British Somalia gained independence on June 26, 1960, and on July 1 the two former colonies united to form the Somali Republic.
Hassan asked the government to recognize the economic, social and cultural contributions of Somali-Canadians in Ontario.
“Whether Ontario has been your family’s home for generations, or you are the first Ontarian in your family, the Somali-Ontarian community has so much to take pride in,” said Hassan. “That’s why I’m asking the provincial government to proclaim June 25 to July 1 of each year Somali Heritage Week.
“Doing so would create an exciting opportunity to celebrate the beautiful culture, language and history, and to recognize the many contributions of Somali-Canadians in Ontario.”
Hassan is the first Somali-Canadian elected to the provincial legislature.
At the flag raising ceremony at City Hall, Faisal Hassan said that after all the sacrifices Somali's have made, they now must look to the future.
"Today we are celebrating the independence, which many Somali's have fought.... and now it is a time to celebrate and look forward to the future."
In past years, Somali-Canadians celebrated Somali independence with Somali Week, a week-long event at multiple venues which culminates in a multi-city soccer tournament. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the games have been cancelled. This year’s event would have marked the 30th anniversary of the Somali Week tournament.