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McCollum Statement Honoring 2017 Somali Independence Day

December 7, 2016
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Minnesota's vibrant Somali-American community and the many cultural, economic and social contributions members make to our state as they begin preparations to celebrate 2017 Somali Independence Day week next summer in Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Annual commemoration of Somali Independence Day is the culmination of Somali Week celebrations in Minnesota, which drew together more than 30,000 participants last July. Somali Week has grown into the Minnesota Somali communities' largest community event of the year and is one of the largest gatherings of the Somali Diaspora.

Hosted in locations throughout Saint Paul and Minneapolis, this week- long festival unites people from around the world and around the state to share in cultural, entertainment and athletic events. The most notable of these activities include a multicultural soccer tournament known as `The Cup of Nations,' hosted by Concordia University in Saint Paul and a family-friendly street festival on Somali Independence Day.

`Promoting Diversity through Unity and Inclusion' is the 2017 Somali Week theme established by organizers. Kajoog, a local Somali non-profit organization is leading efforts with other community partners to plan exhibitions, performances, and wide ranging panel discussions, aimed at uplifting the strengths of inclusivity. Kajoog Executive Director Daud Muhammad has forged strong collaborations with the Minnesota Historical Society, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Somali Museum of Minnesota, among many others to plan this vibrant festival.

In addition to organizing Somali Week, Kajoog has earned recognition by local, state and federal officials, as well as law enforcement for their effective job-training and positive youth programs, and efforts to combat extremism throughout the community.

Mr. Speaker, Minnesota's Somali community has added greatly to the fabric of our state and our nation. Please join me in paying tribute to community members who come together each year to celebrate Somali Week, and every day work to foster, educate, and promote cultural understanding and traditions among all Minnesotans.