Ottawa’s Muslim community is full of uncommon mixed race identities, but Shady Hafez, 22, might be an original. Born in Ottawa, the son of an Algonquin mother from the Kitigan Zibi reservation and a Muslim father from Syria, Shady was raised in two worlds, each misunderstanding of the other, and both misunderstood by mainstream Western culture.
Abdulgadir Ahmed, 17, is one of only two Student Trustees who sits on the Board of Trustees of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. While other Trustees are elected during municipal elections, student trustees are elected by their fellow students. He has taken on the responsibility of representing such a diverse constituency with a great deal of sincerity. “This isn't just something you do to put on your resume,” he explained. “You do it because you are passionate about it.” Despite his hectic schedule, the Grade 12 Sir Robert Borden student found the time to speak with Muslim Link about the issues that matter to him most.
In this installment of my column, I interview just one local convert about her experiences raising her children as Muslim while having non-Muslim parents. Dr. Aisha Sherazi was born and raised in the UK, and migrated to Canada in 2000. She hails from a Hindu family, and is of Indian origin. She writes freelance editorials in various newspapers and resides in Ottawa, Canada. She now works as a spiritual counsellor for teenagers and teachers at Merivale High School, and conducts workshops across the city on the dangers of stereotyping. She helps represent the Muslim Community of Ottawa on COMPAC for the Ottawa Police Service and sits on the board of the Islamic Social Services Association of Canada. Happily married with two busy children, she also writes poetry and fiction in her spare time
On Friday, Febraury 28th, a memorial service took place at Ridgemont High School to remember and celebrate the life of Mohamoud Hersi Abdulle. The service was attended by Ottawa Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau, who also spoke, along with Mr. Abdulle's family, friends, and colleagues. He was killed in a terrorist attack on the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Friday, February 21, just a few days before he was about to return to Ottawa. He is survived by a wife and six children. Muslim Link invited Somali community members who worked closely with Mr. Abdulle to reflect on the impact of his life and work in Ottawa.
Farhia Ahmed is a mother of four who runs her own career consulting business. But on and off since 2005, she has been the team lead for Reviving the Islamic Spirit's Media Team. Muslim Link had a chance to interview Farhia about her journey with RIS and the role the Media Team plays in trying to improve the image of Muslims in mainstream media.
On November 4th, Mohamed Islam, 31, was awarded with Crime Prevention Ottawa's 2013 Youth Worker Award in a ceremony at City Hall. Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) is an organization which aims to reduce crime and enhance community safety through collaborative evidence-based crime prevention strategies. Mohamed Islam is a Youth Worker with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and is the coordinator of the Somali Youth Support Project, a program run out of the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre.
Farhat came to Canada in 1969 to marry and raise a family. Like other immigrants of her age and background she had many aspirations and hopes for her bright children. But in February 2001, her dreams were shattered when her son, gripped by paranoid delusions due to an undiagnosed mental illness, stabbed his friend and mentor of many years who succumbed to his injuries. What began was a nightmare as Farhat struggled with guilt over her son's crime, heartache over the deterioration of her son's mental health, fear for her son's safety in the Ottawa Carleton Regional Detention Centre (RDC), and frustration with a corrections system she discovered to be seriously flawed. But in the process, Farhat became an advocate for the rights' of prisoners and their families and reached out to the support networks that she could find in Ottawa.