Orange Ribbon Campaign: Celebrating Refugees: K'Naan

As a part of our Orange Ribbon Campaign, we will be highlighting some of Canada's most well known refugees throughout the month to bring awareness to the highest numbers of displaced people on record and to honour the strength, courage and resilience of refugees the world over. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, just as the civil unrest that rocked the country was beginning, musical artist K'Naan spent the early years of his life trying to avoid death and listening to the hip-hop records sent to him from America by his father, who had left Somalia earlier. When K'Naan (whose name means "traveler" in Somali) was 13, he and his mother arrived in Rexdale, Ontario as refugees.

In tenth grade he dropped out of school and traveled North America for two years, performing occasionally. He was able to perform at the United Nations' 50th anniversary concert in 1999, held in Geneva, where he used his platform to publicly criticize the United Nations' handling of the Somali crisis in the 1990s. One of the audience members, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, was so impressed by the young MC's performance and courage that he invited him to contribute to his 2001 album Building Bridges, a project through which K'NAAN was able to tour the world.

His seminal work The Dusty Foot Philosopher came out in 2005 and in 2007, the live album On the Road appeared. Two years later, the album Troubadour became K'Naan's first for the major-label A&M. After his track "Wavin' Flag" became the anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his More Beautiful Than Silence EP arrived in 2012.

The world, our world is now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the globe have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. In a world where nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution, the role of the international community is more important than ever before.