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Former Toronto journalist killed in attack remembered as someone who followed her passion

Twenty-six people have been killed in an extremist attack in Somalia including Hodan Nalayeh, a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist, and her husband.
Twenty-six people have been killed in an extremist attack in Somalia including Hodan Nalayeh, a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist, and her husband. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Hodan Nalayeh, Facebook

Hodan Nalayeh was many things. She held her family close to her heart, she was a good mother, a loving wife, and a friend you could count on.

But most of all, Nalayeh was a storyteller, and she used her craft to try and change the way people see her home country of Somalia.

“Everybody should try to emulate the type of life that she lived, which was follow your passion, love people and always look for the best in everyone,” said Ricardo McRae, a longtime friend.

“I love to see people bring their ideas to life and she was somebody that always took action, always followed through.”

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READ MORE: Former Toronto journalist among dead in Somalia car bombing: reports

The 43-year-old and her husband were among the 26 killed after members of al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group, detonated a car bomb at the hotel she was staying at Friday in the port city of Kismayo.  Fifty-six others were injured during the attack.

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Somali Journalists Syndicate said in a statement that Nalayeh died along with another journalist, Mohamed Omar Sahal.

“We pray for the families of the two journalists as we also stand with them during this sad moment,” said Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the group’s secretary general.

Nalayeh had spent much of her career promoting her cultural heritage on Integration TV, the first English television show for Somalis around the world. When she brought the idea of the show to McRae, they brought it to life.

“I knew there was a demand; I knew that all sorts of people would love and gravitate to this content,” said McRae.

“I’m thinking of how much more she could have done given 40 to 50 years, like she was just getting warmed up.”

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READ MORE: 26 killed, including Somali-Canadian journalist, in siege on Somalian city

Nalayeh, who lived in Vaughan, Ont. at one point in her career, was known on the world stage as a trailblazer.

“She was a change-maker, actually,” explains friend Zuheira Abdiwahab, who lives in Somalia.

“She spent her life devoted  to serving the Somali community and she brought a positive history all over the world.”

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“She was doing what she loved every day and she was doing it with her husband and her family, and that is a great way to go if you have to go,” said McRae.

Nalayeh was seven months pregnant and leaves two sons.

WATCH: (July 12, 2019) Former Toronto journalist killed in Somalia car bombing: reports

Former Toronto journalist killed in Somalia car bombing: reports
Former Toronto journalist killed in Somalia car bombing: reports