Edmonton-Decore Makes History as Sharif Haji Becomes First Somali-Canadian Elected to Alberta’s Parliament

by | May 31, 2023 | opinion

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Edmonton, AB – In a groundbreaking victory during Alberta’s provincial election, Sharif Haji of the New Democratic Party (NDP) secured a historic win on Tuesday, becoming the first Somali-Canadian elected to Alberta’s Parliament. The closely-watched contest in Edmonton-Decore saw Haji surpass his fellow Somali-Canadian competitor, Sayid Ahmed of the Conservative party, capturing the seat with an impressive 52.5% of the votes.

Haji, who currently serves as the executive director at The Africa Centre, has dedicated years to helping communities and has been actively involved in numerous initiatives across the province. His extensive experience includes overseeing Alberta’s pioneering Provincial Affordable Housing and Primary Health Care Strategy. Additionally, Haji has made valuable contributions as a member of several boards and committees, such as the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition, United Way, and the Centre for Race and Culture. Moreover, he played a pivotal role in co-founding the Federation of African Canadians Economics (FACE), a group focused on improving access to capital for Black businesses in Canada.

Defeating the incumbent MLA Chris Nielsen for the NDP nomination in June 2022, Haji expressed profound gratitude for the trust placed in him by the public. “I’m deeply honoured by the confidence that the voters of Edmonton-Decore have shown in me and the Alberta NDP,” he stated while extending thanks to his fellow contestants for their participation in the election. Haji emphasized his unwavering commitment to listen and respond to the concerns of his constituents, concluding his statement with a rallying call for a brighter future.

Just last month, Haji resigned as the Executive Director of The Africa Centre, a prominent pan-African nonprofit organization in Canada. Under his leadership, the Africa Centre garnered an esteemed reputation, widespread recognition, and notable expansion, becoming one of the country’s largest black-led, black-focused organizations.

The historic election of Sharif Haji underscores an ongoing shift in Alberta politics and represents a significant milestone for immigrant communities and Somali-Canadian representation in the Canadian political landscape.


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