The Kenyan Community had the privilege of hosting Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on Saturday April 10, 2021 for an engagement forum with the Kenyan community leaders from across the country. The forum was convened by Kenyan Canadian Association at the request of Minister Hussen.
The meeting brought together more than 55 Kenyan organizations and groups from across the country. The meeting was graced by the Kenyan Mission to Canada led by the Acting Kenya High Commissioner to Canada / Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Amb. Stephen Lorete. He was accompanied by Kenya Deputy High Commissioner Amb. Abdishakur Hussein and Honorary Consul of Kenya in Toronto Sunir Chandaria and Counselor Monica Kiruja.
In his introductory remarks, Minister Hussen iterated the strong people-to-people and diplomatic ties between Canada and Kenya, mentioning that he visited Kenya numerous times during his previous tenure as the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
The Minister said that the purpose of the community engagement forum was not only to talk about what the Federal government was doing for the community, but to obtain feedback on whether current policies were working and serving the community.
The Minister provided an overview of the National poverty reduction strategy and the national housing strategy. He also elucidated the 221$ M entrepreneurship program to support black entrepreneurs across Canada during the pandemic and to help them to recover as Canada builds back better post-pandemic. He mentioned that Canada is a signatory of the commitments of the United Nations People of African Descent (UNPAD) while emphasizing his commitment to working with African Canadians and specifically with the Kenyan Community Leaders to ensure that they have the needed capacity.
According to the Minister, Canada became a signatory to the UNDPAD in 2018 which promotes African Canadian issues and has been delivering on the commitments, citing the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) and the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI). He noted however, that despite the investments the government has made, the need remains great as the Black community has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “At the beginning of the pandemic, community organizations were losing revenue and volunteers and at the same time there was an increase in demand for their services,” said Hon. Hussen. He hopes that the budget presented on this year will allocate more resources for the Black community organizations for capacity building, infrastructure, and capital.
In response to a question about mental health support for the Black community. He said that he was committed to fight for more funds to put resources in the hands of mental health professionals from the community to provide culturally appropriate care for community members. He mentioned that Federal funding for mental health initiatives for the community more than tripled in the last round, supporting more than 200 community organizations. He also hopes that the 2021-2022 budget will allocate more resources towards this.
He noted that his ministry has been responsive to the charity sector, he took it upon himself to support the organizations that are providing critical support to communities. At the height of COVID-19, he managed to secure 350$ M that was channeled to community organizations through three intermediaries United Way, Canadian Red Cross Society and Communities Foundation. Some of the funds were put directly in the hands of Black Community organizations. He welcomed an invitation for another meeting once funding has been allocated for community organizations in the upcoming budget where he would discuss a roadmap on how organizations can access the funds.
The Minister also talked about the upcoming funding round towards the end of 2021. He also mentioned the social finance fund worth $755M for social entrepreneurs through which social-service organizations provide critical services like housing the homeless or training hard-to-employ people with new skills. He cited a group in London, Ontario that has accessed funding to buy a coffee shop and build housing for homeless youth. He encouraged the forum participants to register for upcoming webinars and online training sessions where questions will be directly answered by his ministry.
He also informed the participants that he would be willing to engage with them in another forum after the budget announcement to have a conversation with the aim of ensuring that the community does not miss out on allocated funding. In his concluding remarks, Hon. Hussen urged the community leaders to encourage their members to complete their tax returns as most of the Federal benefits flow through the tax system and most individuals that are eligible and in need miss out for failure to file their taxes.
His Excellency Amb. Stephen Lorete in his vote of thanks to the Minister, he commended him for being an ally and for the valuable information he shared with the Kenyan Community Leaders. Amb. Lorete also appreciated Kenyan Canadian Association for inviting the Kenyan Mission to Canada to the meeting and reiterated the need for further collaboration and knowledge sharing within the Kenyan Community in Canada.
Honorary Consul Sunir Chandaria thanked the Minister, Kenyan Canadian Association, and the audience for their participation. He noted the value of the community coming together in these difficult times to support each other. He also encouraged the Kenyan diaspora to complete the Diaspora Remittance Survey by the Central Bank of Kenya at https://www.centralbank.go.ke whose deadline is May 17, 2021.
Kenyan Canadian Association Board and Council would like to thank the following organizations that registered to participate at the forum.
- 10375292 Canada Inc.
- A.S Transport Plus
- Abeingo Association Canada
- Abeso Translogistics
- Africa Community Wellness Initiative
- Ann Muhia Psychotherapy services
- Association of Kenyans in Alberta (AKA)
- Barzakh Community Services
- BCW in Action Black Canadian Women In Action
- Canada Luo Women Association (CALUWO)
- Divine Tabernacle Centre
- Dove Canada
- Farah Family Solutions Inc
- FASTransformation Inc
- Fitashe Kenyan Store
- Genesis Micro Systems Inc
- Glory Community Church
- Glory Community House
- Gospel Ministries of Mount Zion Church
- Great Lakes Networking Society of BC
- Harmony Personal Care Services
- Headsource Employment Inc.
- Heart Lake Run
- JM Law Professional Corporation
- Jukumuletu Education and Social Program Association
- KenCan Investments
- Kenya Association of Manitoba (KAM)
- Kenyan Canadian Association
- Kenyan Community Association In Calgary
- Kenyan Community in British Columbia Society (KENBC)
- Kenyan Community in the National Capital Region
- Kenyan Kids Foundation Canada
- Kenyan Ramogi Community in Canada-KRCC
- Kenyans in Canada Association (KICA)
- Kenyans in Newfoundland & Labrador
- Kenyans in Nova Scotia
- Kikao Konnect
- Kingdom Gatekeepers International Ministry
- Kutchi Cultural Association
- Kwa Ramogi Association
- Mwamogusii Association Canada
- Nasserpuria Memon Jamat Canada
- Onyxx Energy Solutions Canada
- SNA Accounting and Tax Consulting CPA Professional Corporation
- St. Jacques kenyans
- Stella's Place
- Stoke UK Diaspora SACCO
- Sundridge Estates
- Trade Innovations
- Umoja Bereavement Association
- Umoja Women's Association
- Uzima Women Relief Group International
- Women Investing Together