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Canada: Cabbie lived 'national embarrassment' of many immigrants

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Canada: Cabbie lived 'national embarrassment' of many immigrants

- Friday, April 15, 2005 at 14:11


Underemployment: Slain former Ottawa man was educated, energetic


Meagan Fitzpatrick and Juliet O'Neill, with files from Mike Haymes

The Ottawa Citizen; with files The Edmonton Journal


April 15, 2005


There's the dreadful thought that the cash stolen by those who killed Hassan Yusuf was part of the money he'd saved to fly his now devastated wife Farhia and seven children from Ottawa to Edmonton where they were supposed to start a new life with a better income.


Or it might have been money he had planned to send, as he reliably and regularly did, back to extended family in Somalia, where the economy has long been shattered by war and people depend on help from expatriate relatives for the basic stuff of life.


Either way, these are among the quintessential elements of the immigrant life Mr. Yusuf, 41, is said to have experienced in Canada -- that of a man who is well educated, energetic and determined to prosper for a large family, but who could not find work for which he was qualified.


His family lived against a backdrop of what Nancy Worsfold, one of Ottawa's prominent community immigrant services leaders, calls "the national embarrassment" of so many immigrants, including those who do have Canadian academic credentials or training, winding up in survival jobs. It's a backdrop, she says, of massive underemployment.


"It's tragic that anyone be murdered when working as a taxi driver, but it seems so sad that this guy had to be driving a taxi when he had so much more to offer because of his education and because of his language skills," she said yesterday. "It's almost like a double tragedy."


Mr. Yusuf was described by family, friends and acquaintances as a quiet, intelligent, good-natured man who came to Canada from Somalia a dozen years ago planning to earn a good life in a peaceful country. He was born in the northeastern state of Puntland but grew up in the capital, Mogadishu. They say he had academic credentials from Somalia and Russia in agricultural sciences and spoke several languages.


"He was a quiet person, family oriented, trying to survive and be a good citizen of this country," said Farah Aw-Osman, a friend who is a youth counsellor at Somali Centre for Family Services in Ottawa. "Even though he was well educated, he couldn't find a job in Ottawa in his profession, like many other immigrants. A lot of immigrants are working in cleaning and taxi driving and that stuff, even though they have high degrees from Europe or other parts of the world. But that's the system."


On top of credentials problems, says Ms. Worsfold, there is also "plain old racism in the labour market." That is apparent by the numbers of people she meets who get Canadian credentials, but still can't land a job for which they are qualified. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, says Abdirizak Karod, Mr. Yusuf spoke to him by phone about getting his qualifications from Somalia certified in Canada.


"He was a great human being; he helped a lot of people here and in Somalia," said Mr. Karod, executive director of the Somali Centre for Family Services. "He was educated. You could sense it in the way he spoke, the way he argued. He was the one always willing to help."


Mohamoud Hagi-Aden, another Somalian community leader, said Mr. Yusuf's death was shocking to everyone.


Mr. Hagi-Aden did not know Mr. Yusuf, but said his underemployment "is something the Somalian community shares with so many immigrant communities. The difficulty is foreign credentials are not recognized. We would like to see some mechanisms so at least there is a support network and education and skills can be upgraded."


The best job Mr. Yusuf apparently found in Ottawa was a far cry from agricultural sciences. He worked on the assembly line at JDS during the high-tech boom years. At the peak, the company employed 12,000 workers; now it's down to 500 local employees. Reports that Mr. Yusuf drove a taxi in Ottawa were incorrect. His cousin drives a taxi here, which may have caused confusion in initial reports.


Mr. Yusuf did embark on retraining. He started working toward a diploma in electrical engineering at Algonquin College. But he was not finished when he decided to move to Edmonton. Fellow Somalis who had moved to Edmonton from Ottawa told him the economy was much better in Alberta and he should give it a go. He landed a job with Yellow Cab and got settled enough to return to Ottawa a month ago to arrange his family's move.


"He moved to Edmonton to get a better job, to get a better life," said Abdirahman Farah, best friend of Mr. Yusuf's cousin, Osman Warsame. "He was trying very hard. He was a simple guy. ... He was always smiling."


"He was looking for a better life, to start a new life," said Mr. Warsame. "He was always looking for a better job." Mr. Warsame said he Mr. Yusuf had a thirst for, and enjoyment of, knowledge and was always reading scientific books. He was also such a soccer fan that he would get up in the middle of the night to watch European matches on TV, especially his favourite team, Milano. One friend said he often read books at Chapters.


The Yusuf family lives in a modest five-bedroom house in Britannia Woods. Mrs. Yusuf brought four of her children to Edmonton Wednesday and three others stayed behind in care of relatives. Three of the children -- 10-year-old Ebyan, nine-year-old Sahid and seven-year-old Ilwad, attend Severn Avenue Public School. The principal there sent a newsletter home with students yesterday, offering counselling from psychologists or social workers for any child who is upset by their friends' loss.


"We're going to play it by ear to see what response is necessary," said principal Ron Lynch. "So far, the reaction has been fairly mild, but we're keeping an eye on a couple of kids. Some kids don't have much experience with death."


Mr. Yusuf's daughter, Ifra, held back tears when she spoke to the Canadian Press in Edmonton. "Devastated is not the word," she said. "He was a loving man. ... He was a very kind man, everyone loved him. Everyone in Ottawa, everyone here. He was a very honest man.'


Mr. Aw-Osman said he was well- loved and respected in Ottawa. He rarely missed a community social function. "He comes from a very large family and he was helping them. Every Somali who comes to this country, that's what they do," Mr. Aw-Osman said. "They do not forget the people they left behind. There's no government, there's no work there, no private institutions to work for. A lot of people are stuck because of the civil war for the past 15 years, and they depend on what's coming from relatives in North America and European countries."


Mr. Warsame said that while grieving Mr. Yusuf, many will also smile at the fun they had with him. "He was a laugh," Mr. Warsame added. "When you were sitting with Hassan, you didn't need anything else, because he was making you laugh. He had a good sense of humour -- that's one thing we cannot forget."


Source: Ottawa Citizen



ALLE haa uu naxariisto!

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Allah uu naxariisto ehelki,oridi yo carurti uu ka tagey na samir iyo iman Allah ka siyo. Wa arrin naxdiin weyn xambarsaan murugadedana leh. Illahow qadiro waxiido weyno kitabkiisa midigta ka sii carrurtisana olaad salax ah oo wadada xaqa ah oo tosan racda ka dhig....amiin.!

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Illahow qadiro waxiido weyno kitabkiisa midigta ka sii carrurtisana olaad salax ah oo wadada xaqa ah oo tosan racda ka dhig....amiin.!


juma sxb ducadii aduunka adigaa dhameeyay.....



aaamiin aamiiin


very sad indeed.


a weak ago 6 somalis .


today an educated brother :mad:


Ilaahoow noo naxariiso nagana qabo cadowgaaga iyo cadow geena. Iaahoow unaxariiso marxuumka intuu katagayna samir iyo iimaan kasii

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Slain cabbie honoured as 'martyr'

Meagan Fitzpatrick and Vernon Clement Jones

The Ottawa Citizen; The Edmonton Journal

April 16, 2005


Even as mourners crowded Edmonton's Al-Rashid Mosque Friday for the funeral of cabbie Hassan Yusuf, his friends in Ottawa's Somali community were relieved to hear that two more people have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death.


Mr. Yusuf, 41, a former Ottawa cabbie, was found stabbed, robbed and stuffed in the trunk of his taxi in Edmonton earlier this week. The car sat in a parking lot at the rear of a liquor store for five days before police found it Tuesday night. He leaves behind a wife and seven children.


Even as the funeral was underway, the first of three accused of killing Mr. Yusuf -- Karl Blair Strongman, 25, of Ponoka, Alta. -- made his first appearance in an Edmonton court. Two others for whom warrants had been issued, Ronald Adrian Crane, 27, and Deidre Renee Baptiste, 23, both from Hobbema, turned themselves into Edmonton police. All three face charges of unlawful confinement and robbery.


While they were placed in custody, hundreds of people, including numerous cab drivers, turned out to honour Mr. Yusuf's memory. "We believe that he was killed in a state of grace," Imam Tamer Ali told the crowd. "When a brother has died as a martyr for his family, we have to be proud of him."


Mr. Yusuf's children sat silently in the auditorium, close to the green casket containing their father. Collective chants of "Amen" hummed over the heads of the children as his four girls sat with their mother, Farhia. His three boys were across the aisle with the men of the mosque.


In Ottawa, meanwhile, outside the prayer room near South Keys that Mr. Yusuf used to attend, his cousin and other friends spoke about the tragic end to Mr. Yusuf's life, and how it could have been avoided. "It could have been prevented if he had been allowed to work professionally. But the doors were closed and he had to resort to driving a taxi," said one man.


Mr. Yusuf had two degrees from schools in Mogadishu and Russia and spoke several languages, but had trouble finding work in Ottawa in his field of agricultural science. He worked various jobs since immigrating in the early 1990s, including the assembly line at JDS. He upgraded his skills by taking courses at Algonquin College, but still couldn't land a permanent job. He moved to Edmonton about a year ago in hopes of establishing a career there, and was driving a taxi to make ends meet. He family was preparing to join him in Edmonton.


At the Edmonton mosque, Mr. Ali led the crowd in asking God to show Yusuf the mercy his killers withheld. "May Allah bless his soul and accept him, and give patience to his family," he said.


Not everybody was so forgiving. "The guy went through the worst nightmare you can imagine and then they killed him," said Barrel Taxi driver Marek. "Personally, I think there should be more punishment for a crime."


But Yellow Cab -- the company that employed Mr. Yusuf -- has to explain why it waited five days before notifying police about his disappearance, said Albi Mohamad, another taxi driver. "We have to know that this terrible thing won't happen again," he said. "The company has to look out for its drivers and that is a fact. Why didn't they do that for Hassan?"


Mr. Yusuf sacrificed himself to the job of feeding his family, another said. "I came to show my respect to the family and to him," said Sukhi Tahli.


It was a sentiment echoed by friends and relatives in Ottawa. His cousin, Saiid Shire, said family that was central in Mr. Yusuf's life. "He was a loving, loving father."


Whenever Mr. Yusuf got home after his children were asleep, he would go into each of their rooms and kiss them good night. Mr. Shire described his cousin as a caring, generous man who always made others laugh and had a positive outlook. If ever there was a conflict, Mr. Yusuf would intervene, said Mr. Shire. "In a word, he was a peacemaker."


Leaders of the Somali community are setting up a trust fund and will soon make the details public. Mrs. Yusuf will need financial help for the children, who range in age from one to 20, they said.


Staff at the Somali Centre for Family Services are in contact with Mrs. Yusuf to see how they can help.



Avtar Grewal attaches a ribbon to a cab in memory of former Ottawa cabbie Hassan Mohamud Yussuf who was found slain this week in the trunk of his cab


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Leaders of the Somali community are setting up a trust fund and will soon make the details public. Mrs. Yusuf will need financial help for the children, who range in age from one to 20, they said.

First allah ha u naharesto, secondly i can't wait to see the site for the trust fund.

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