Hodan Nalayeh, a Somali-Canadian journalist who built a career telling uplifting stories of the Somali community, has died in a hotel attack in Somalia, according to local media.
Nalayeh and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, were among 10 people killed after gunmen stormed the Asasey Hotel in the port city of Kismayo, according to Mogadishu-based independent radio station Radio Dalsan.
Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic rebels claimed responsibility for the attack. Officials said the death toll could rise as fighting continues between hotel security and the extremist gunmen.
Global Affairs has not confirmed any Canadian deaths but said it is aware of the incident and is working to get more information.
Nalayeh, a mother of two boys, was born in Somalia and spent the majority of her life in Canada, where she developed her career as a journalist. She lived in Alberta before moving to Toronto and started her own web-based video production company, Integration TV, which provided content to Somali viewers in Canada and around the world.
After reports broke of her death, her YouTube channel was flooded with comments of condolences from viewers. Many thanked her for her inspiring coverage.
Nalayeh’s reporting often profiled trailblazing Somalis and people with heartwarming stories, such as
a group of female entrepreneurs or a single mother of five who adopted a toddler. Once, she interviewed former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for Integration TV.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was saddened to learn of Nalayeh’s death.
“I am so sad and shocked to learn of the tragic death of @HodanTV and her husband Farid in a terrorist attack, along with other victims of this hate-fuelled violence,” Horwath said on Twitter.
“Hodan’s endless positivity and her love for people was inspiring.”
Earlier this week, she tweeted an image of a sunset over the ocean near Kismayo.
“People save all their lives to have a retirement b the beach, yet, we have plenty of it and cannot see its value. Let’s appreciate the beautiful blessings we have,” she tweeted.