She showcased positive aspects of Somali communities in Canada and in Somalia.
And now a new Edmonton scholarship aims to continue the legacy of Somali-Canadian reporter Hodan Nalayeh.
“Nobody can replace her but I hope somebody will stand up and fill up her spot and go back and build that region again,” said family friend Rashid Hersi, in an interview on CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Monday.
Nalayeh grew up in Edmonton and Toronto, and returned to her native Somalia where she connected Somalis around the world through her English YouTube channel, Integration TV.
“There is a lot of clips where she’s sitting in shanty small restaurants as she’s dining with the locals, as she’s going into the bush and she’s going to the nomads and drinking cow milk, and she’s going to the beach,” Hersi said.
“I see that people are laughing. These people are devastated by war, a civil war, tribal war. And you see that their chin is lifted up.”
Nalayeh was one of 26 victims of a terrorist attack on a hotel in Kismayo, Somalia, on Friday as was her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman.
Nalayeh, who was pregnant at the time, leaves behind two children, Hersi said.
“Canadians are all over the world doing goodwill jobs out there and they lose their life sometimes,” he said. “But this one was the saddest one I have ever come across.”
Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, said the society is setting up a scholarship in her name.
The $1,000 scholarship is to be awarded to a woman entering university pursuing a career in journalism.
The society is also developing a Somali Museum of Edmonton to be housed at the Bosco Foundation building in Edmonton’s Balwin neighbourhood.
Displays and digital archives showcasing the history of Somalia and Somalians in Canada, are being gathered from exhibits around the world, Ibrahim said, with hopes of launching the Edmonton museum in the fall.
A portion of the museum will be dedicated to the work of Nalayeh.
A memorial for the victims of the Somalia hotel attack is taking place on Friday at the Bosco Foundation building, at 6770 129th Ave., starting at 6 p.m.