Hodan Nalayeh, a Somali-Canadian journalist who once resided in Vaughan, Ont., was killed in an attack on a hotel in Somalia on Friday, Mogadishu-based Radio Dalsan tells CBC News.
Global Affairs Canada has yet to confirm Nalayeh’s death.
Radio Dalsan, an independent radio station with journalists based in Mogadishu, confirmed to CBC News that Nalayeh and her husband were among those who were killed in the attack.
CBC journalist Nazim Baksh says he got to know Nalayeh during Storytelling Somalia, a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations-sponsored workshop. Held in 2014, it was designed to build capacity among Somalis in the diaspora.
At that time, Nalayeh had just launched her weekly television show Integration TV in Toronto on OMNI TV.
“Hodan was always keen to showcase the best aspects of her community, whether in the diaspora or back in Somalia, but she would never shy away from tackling controversial topics that made many in her community uneasy,” Baksh told CBC News.
“Hodan was an amazing journalist who was never afraid to ask the tough questions and she often did it with style and a smile.”
In recent years, she travelled to remote areas in Somalia to see how drought is affecting people there and to raise awareness of the situation.
Nalayeh appeared on a podcast in June called Meaningful Work, Meaningful Life.
In the podcast, hosted by Francine Beleyi, Nalayeh said she started her television program to tell stories about the Somali community that no one was doing on the Internet, and to give voice to the Somali diaspora.
“If we don’t have more storytellers from our communities, especially in the African diaspora communities, who’s going to continue the tradition of storytelling?” Nalayeh said.
“Social media has changed the game for how people learn about culture. So, if we don’t become the creators of our own content, we are going to be at the mercy of other people telling the stories of Africa.”
The mother of two said she grew up with 11 siblings. While it was a challenge for her parents to feed and take care of 12 children, she was determined to the become a trained journalist.
“My path was always growing up to be a journalist,” she said, adding that even though she initially worked in radio advertising and business development sales, in her late 30s she went back to school and completed a broadcast journalism course.
Nalayeh spoke with CBC News in 2016 after Buri Mohamed Hamza, a Somali government minister with Canadian citizenship, was killed by gunmen who stormed a hotel in Mogadishu in an attack that lasted hours.
“Anyone who follows their passion to help rebuild Somalia knows there’s always a risk of death,” she said.
“Buri knew Somalia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. He wanted the beauty of Somalia to be protected. This was his passion.”
The most important value I’ve learned being in #Somalia is “patience.”
Being patient with my brothers & sisters who have witnessed war and conflict is the least I can do. We can never know the damage war has done, but we can be understanding and patient. #FridayFeeling #Kismayo pic.twitter.com/0RJ24OiOtU