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12
Apr
2013

Conference a great opportunity to connect with other youth

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Published in News

The recent I.LEAD Conference held on March 16 was a great success!  It was a very social way to end the March Break with youth from all over the Ottawa-Gatineau region coming together to make a difference. For a first-time event, I think everyone was amazed by the turnout, with more than 2,500 people attending!  We heard speeches by well known scholars and Imams, including Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Imam Tahir Anwar and Sheikh Navaid Aziz.

Many of our esteemed Ottawa Imams, including Ismail Al-Batnuni, Zijad Delic, Ahmed Limame, Anver Malam and Samy Metwally also participated in the speeches and workshops.

For me, as a young teenager, I was thrilled that Muslim writer, Rukhsana Khan -- who wrote one of my favourite books -- was one of the keynote speakers!  She spoke of empowering the youth to stand up and make a difference and urged the youth to apply Islam to their lives.  She implored the youth to find their personal strengths and use those strengths for benefitting the community.  She also encouraged young people to participate in Leadership and Anti-Bullying seminars and reminded them to “...live your life as an example, not a warning.”

{sidebar id=6} For many youth, one of the many highlights of the day was the workshops, which were offered in both English and French.  The workshops were relevant to what we're going through as teens with topics such as: “Using Social Media in a Halal Way,” “How can I fit in and still be Muslim?” “Yes! Let's LEAD and make a difference together!” and “Comment s'intégrer à la société.”

They were also very helpful in providing us with answers to many of our questions and giving us the chance to communicate with others facing similar issues. Many left the conference with a renewed enthusiasm and ideas and plans for the future. I think everyone was pleased with the ILEAD Conference and several people expressed an interest in making it an annual event. 

As a young person, I would definitely like to see more events of this nature in Ottawa.  For that to happen, though, we will need some new thoughts, ideas and insights.  A few suggestions that I would like to give the organizers is to have separate workshops for adults with tips on dealing with the youth and some younger local speakers who could tell us about their own experiences and provide role models for the youth.  The main difference I would like to see in the future, however, is for everyone to stop talking about the youth and start talking to them.

Soumaya Marhnouj  is a Grade 8 student.

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