Skip to main content

A Stranger Within: Diversity & Identity in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Huda Mukbil and her family fled Ethiopia during its civil war and became Canadian citizens.

Shortly after the attacks of 11 September 2001, she became an officer of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Huda's expertise with many languages quickly made her a counterterrorism subject matter expert and a unique and valuable contributor at CSIS.

In this talk, Huda will discuss the discrimination she experienced in the service of Canadian national security. CSIS began to treat Huda as an insider threat, especially following the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the rise of homegrown extremism in the West. As a hijab-wearing Muslim, under baseless suspicion, she was asked to take a polygraph test to prove her allegiance.

Huda will discuss her internal conflict as her employer’s practice of profiling of Muslims reached its own employees, and as revelations emerged about torture by western spy agencies emerged.

As a citizen, Huda found CSIS’s practices and its tolerance of torture by allies in conflict with its mandate, which she dearly believed in. More than anything, Huda wanted to prove that being a Muslim did not conflict with her loyalty to Canada.

Huda enjoyed brief relief from these pressures in July 2005 when she was seconded to MI5, the UK’s security service. There, she made high-level contributions to the investigations of the 7/7 and 21/7 terrorist attacks in London.

Huda's presentation will reveal the twists and turns of her sixteen-year career at CSIS, including her inability to break into managerial positions unofficially reserved for white men. She will speak about her experience fighting misogyny and systemic racism and her road to demand for equity and reforms.

Please note this is an in-person event only, and that registration is for seated tickets only. 

Attendees will have a chance to meet & greet at a reception after the lecture. Refreshments will be served.