If you could sum up Hoda Elatawi in one word, it would most likely be ‘storyteller.’ From a young age, Elatawi loved the art of storytelling, and would turn many of her school assignments into plays, fashion shows, or some other form of artwork.
In the Ottawa community, it's a challenge to meet someone who does not know Khadija Haffajee. She is seen as a pioneering figure in the nation’s capital, as well as on a global scale as a lecturer, educator, mentor and social activist. But not everyone knows the unique backstory on how a South African woman ended up holding such a public role in Canada.
One Muslim woman is devoting much of her time to raise awareness about Islam across small town Ontario through a series of presentations and interfaith dialogue.
Barbara Helms was born in Saskatchewan to American parents, who were both accomplished classical musicians teaching in Canada. Shortly after she was born the family moved back to the United States, where Helms was raised with her older sister in Princeton, NJ. She returned to Canada in her 20s to study at McGill University.
Imam Mohammed Badat was born and raised in Toronto, Canada to parents who emigrated from Gujarat, India in the early 1970s. His family grew up near their local masjid in York region. “The masjid was our playground growing up,” he shared. Imam Badat began his Islamic Studies there, memorizing Quran and being tutored by the resident imam.
After years of working in community development and youth engagement across Ottawa, Hamid Mousa has been working with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) since 2008. Currently the OPS Community Development Coordinator, Mousa, a Palestinian Canadian, began as a refugee to this country.
Assma Galuta, aka Asoomii Jay, 25, has been an active YouTuber since 2011 when she began doing hijab tutorials. “I saw a lot of my friends removing their hijab and it made me sad,” she explained, “They were just doing it to fit in with their Canadian friends and they would say ‘I don’t look good in a hijab’ or ‘I don’t feel welcome in a hijab’. I started my YouTube Channel because I wanted to show girls that they could still look pretty and feel pretty and be stylish and wear the hijab.” Her channel became popular internationally with thousands of subscribers on YouTube and tens of thousands of Facebook followers.
Muslim Link attended this year’sI.LEAD Conference and asked participants to reflect on what community means to them. Here is a response from Pakistani Canadian Yumna Rashid, a recent teacher’s college grad and mother of three, who regularly volunteers with the Islam Care Centre.
Muslim Link attended this year’s I.LEAD Conference and asked participants to reflect on what community means to them. Here is a response from Somali Canadian Faisa Omar, a graduate student in neuroscience, who regularly does photography and videography for community events and Muslim Link's A Muslim History of Ottawa, volunteers with Ottawa Islamic School, and runs a weekend duqsi (Quran School in Somali) in her home for neighbourhood children.