The Somali community of Canada congratulates the new lawyers recently called to the Bar of Ontario, Canada. Among the recently minted members of the Law Society of Upper Canada is 27-year-old Somali-Canadian Aweis Osman. Aweis recently graduated with a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Aweis follows in the footsteps of his father, internationally renowned lawyer, Abdiwahid Osman Haji.
Mr. Haji is recognized globally as a leading expert in Somali law, and has been practicing since 1983. After obtaining his Bachelor of Laws from the Somali National University’s School of Law in 1980, he built a successful practice as a criminal and commercial lawyer. In 1980, Mr. Haji also joined the Somali National University’s School of Law as an Associate Professor, lecturing extensively on Somali constitutionalism and legal history.
Following the Somali civil war, Mr. Haji and his wife Magda Sekaly settled in Ottawa, Canada in hopes of giving their children a better future. Mr. Haji has a long history in Ottawa for his commitment to community leadership and activism. He obtained his Masters of Law (LL.M) in International Humanitarian Law at the University of Ottawa in 1999. His has offered assistance to countless newcomers to Canada, advising on refugee settlement and immigration matters. He has also advocated on behalf Somali refugees around the world. Mr. Haji continues to give expert opinions to courts and tribunals on three continents in refugee, asylum, and deportation cases.
“I’ve always admired his generous spirit” relates Aweis, speaking of his father “not a day went by where he wasn’t supporting someone in need; he was never afraid to get involved”. Education was also highly encouraged. Four of Mr. Haji’s children hold graduate degrees; his daughter Muna is currently completing her PhD at the University of Ottawa. Muna’s research focuses on cross-cultural psychology, acculturation, and the development of ethnic identities among minority youth. His eldest son, Sekaly, is completing a Master’s degree in Information Systems and Design at the University of Toronto. While another son, Osman, completed a Master of Science degree at the University of Waterloo in Public Health and Health Systems. The family’s success has reverberated amongst their friends and professional circles. “I’ve never seen a family who takes in so many people under their wing, pushing them to excel and never accepting mediocrity” says Jennifer Templin, a close family friend from Ottawa, Canada.
In 2000, Mr. Haji established the highly successful Mogadishu Law Office. In 2013, Mr. Haji permanently returned to Somalia and was nominated by the Federal Government to Somalia’s Steering Committee of the National Conference on Justice and Rule of Law. He has also been asked by the relevant authorities in the Federal Government of Somalia to draft new laws including the Constitutional Court Act, Human Rights Act, and Organisation of the Somali Judiciary Law. He has also worked on legal issues related to the various regional authorities in Somalia such as the Somaliland and Puntland states, as well as the Jubaland, South West, and Galmudug administrations. He has returned to teaching, taking a post as lecturer and instructor at Somali Capital University. He is also a member in good standing in the Somali Supreme Court in Mogadishu, and various regional and district courts.
Aweis travelled to Somalia in 2014 for the first time since he was an infant. He aided his father as legal assistant in a variety of projects at the Mogadishu Law Office (see photo).
Mr. Haji recently travelled from Mogadishu to Ottawa to celebrate the beginning of his son’s legal career at a ceremony that was attended by the Minister of Justice Jody Raybould-Wilson. Aweis and Minister Raybould-Wilson, who is originally from the province of British Columbia, were both being called to the bar of the Province of Ontario in the same ceremony.
Aweis will be starting this year as an associate at one of the largest and most respected law firms in Canada, GowlingWLG in Ottawa.