Meet the Somalis

          Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 10.47.44 AM   This incredible project by the Open Society Initiative for Europe contains 14 illustrated stories about the lives of Somalis in 7 European cities. From the “Meet the Somalis” website:

 “Meet the Somalis” depicts experiences many of us will never know, like fleeing a warzone with your children or, worse, leaving your loved ones behind. But more often, these stories portray the values shared amongst many of us, like the importance of family, well-being, and identity in an ever-changing world.

You could easily substitute stories in Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver for these ones in Amsterdam, Helsinki or London. Understanding the experiences of Somalis in Canada is hugely important, too—so often in this country, the first association with “Somali” is gangs or crime. But if people knew the Somalis I know—if they knew the stories of Mustaf, Siyad, Abdul, Abdullahi, Abdizalaam, Sharmarke, Abdisahal—we would instead first associate “Somali” with words like “resilient,” “hard-working,” “principled,” and “brave.”