Somali-Canadians of all walks of life and other nationalities came together Wednesday evening to pay tribute to peace activist and former diplomat Almaas Elman who was killed last month in Mogadishu.
Speaker after speaker paid glowing tribute to Almaas for her dedication and commitment to the cause of humanity and a peaceful, stable and progressive Somalia.
The Elman family which flew in to Toronto from Mogadishu joined dozens of fellow Somalis and non-Somalis in celebrating and honouring the life of Almaas who was roundly described as ‘humble and dedicated’.
From Toronto Raptors President Masai Uriri to Almaas’ former colleagues in the Canadian Armed Forces, the gathering felt the love and touch Almaas had spread not only in Somalia where she was born but also in her second home, Canada.
American Human Rights Activist and author Lisa Shannon who co-founded Sister to Sister Foundation with Almaas’ mother Fartuun Adan said most of Almaas’ work was behind the scenes but ‘powerful and influential’.
She described the late peace activist as ‘determined and committed’. Shannon also praised the Elman family for what she said was ‘huge sacrifice for peace and empowerment of women’ especially those who have suffered abuse.
Uriri expressed loss for the death of Almaas noting she last met her in Nairobi and experienced the work she and her family was doing during his visit to Mogadishu in September. He noted contrary to perceptions, Somalia was peaceful and registered remarkable development.
Others who paid tribute to Almaas include her former colleagues in the Canadian Armed Forces who described her as ‘resilient and helpful’. “She helped me to be a good soldier and extended a hand of help to new recruits,” one of the officers said.
Almaas’ sister Ilwaad said she was attending the UN Security Council meeting when she heard the news of her sister’s killing. She expressed her gratitude to the attendees for organising and participating in the event to celebrate her sister’s life.