K'naan, born Keinan Abdi Warsame, came to Canada as a teenager with his family, leaving war-torn Somalia and settling in Toronto's Rexdale. There, he struggled to learn English by copying the lyrics to rap songs.
Discovered by pop star Youssou N'Dour, the socially conscious rapper has since embarked on a global career, collaborating with other artists and touring the world.
K'naan's anthem Wavin' Flag was the official track for the global trophy tour of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and reverberated in hundreds of cities all over the world.
During the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, K'naan re-recorded the song along with 50 other Canadian musicians, with the new name Young Artists for Haiti in support of the Haiti earthquake relief effort.
Nominator: K'naan was nominated by the Transformational Canadians Panel.