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Muslim Link interviewed the organizers of the I.LEAD Conference about what participants can expect from this year's event. Muslim Link interviewed the organizers of the I.LEAD Conference about what participants can expect from this year's event.

Ottawa's Ummah Gathers Saturday To Reconnect with Faith at the I.LEAD Conference

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The I.LEAD Conference returns to Ottawa this Saturday, April 16th. This year’s theme is Living the Legacy: Those Who Believe and Do Righteous Deeds. 

The conference is the result of a collaboration between the Assunnah Muslim Association, the Mosque of Aylmer, the Outaouais Islamic Centre of Gatineau, the Islam Care CentreMasjid Bilal, the Islamic Society of Gloucester, Masjid Jami Omar, the Kanata Muslim Association, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) Ottawa Chapter, the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA), the South Nepean Muslim Community (SNMC), with the support of the Muslim Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa and the Muslim Students’ Association of Carleton University.

Muslim Link interviewed the conference organizers about their choice of theme and what participants can expect for this year's event.

How did you decide on the theme of this year's I.LEAD Conference?

The program for this year's conference was developed over several months after extensive brainstorming and planning. To help us develop the program, each year, we conduct feedback surveys at the end of each conference to understand issues that are pertinent to our community. Based on the responses, we develop a theme for the year, and then consolidate topics relating to the theme. Finally, we decide on the scope of lectures and workshops for the day in order to provide our audience with a well-rounded educational experience as well as action points to take home.

As always, the theme and program is developed in consultation with all I.LEAD member organizations. This year in particular, the I.LEAD program committee has worked extensively with the Muslim Students’ Associations of both University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

Why do you think the theme you chose is relevant for Muslims in the National Capital Region?

The theme of this year’s conference is “Living the Legacy – Those who believe and do righteous deeds”. This statement is repeated in the Qur’an at least 100 times and our hope is that the conference will provide one with motivation to do righteous deeds and enhance one's faith. This theme is relevant not only to Muslims in the Ottawa Region, but to Muslims everywhere. The intention behind the theme was to revitalize the importance of faith.  Some turn away from Islam due to their lack of understanding of what Islam really is, which ultimately comes down to knowing Who Allah is. Therefore, we tried a new approach this year: back to the basics, back to our Creator, back to our spiritual connection with Allah and back to our reality of being Muslims. By developing an understanding of Allah, and knowing how to journey back to Him and knowing that it is never too late, we hope that attendees will reignite the spark and sweetness of faith, and consequently overcome the struggles that they face on a regular basis.

We do our best in terms of planning the lectures and workshops to be of benefit to the attendees. Only those who attend can benefit, so we really encourage people to spread the word and bring their family and friends and then reap the rewards (inshaa Allah)!

Why are you excited by this year's line-up of speakers?

This is the best and most diverse speaker line up we have had to date since the inception of the conference, Alhamdulillah! With the widespread awareness of our conference across Canada, we have been blessed with the opportunity to host knowledgeable speakers and entertainers from around the globe, Alhamdulillah. Our program line-up will make for an unforgettable day for the entire family inshaa Allah, with lectures and Q&A sessions in English, Arabic and French. Furthermore, for the second year, our speakers will be offering insightful lectures exclusively for children between the ages of 7 and 12.

The speakers are qualified in the topics they will speak about and we are confident they they will do an excellent job connecting with the audience, inshaa Allah. Overall, speakers for I.LEAD 2016 are definitely individuals who must be listened to in person! Come and join us in welcoming them to Ottawa.

Why has I.LEAD decided to include a matrimonial session at this year's conference? What advice did local imams give to help inform how you designed this session?

Our team identified a need for matrimonial services this year based on our experiences with Ottawa's Muslim community over the past few years. We felt there was great demand for such a service.

Our discussions with Muslims led us to believe that there needs to be an easier and Islamic way for Muslim singles to meet potential spouses. There are many young adults, divorcees, converts, older individuals, widows and widowers who would like to get married but face challenges in finding a spouse through an Islamically-appropriate channel. Sadly, some even end up in resorting to less than ideal means. As a community, it is our duty to do what we can to help.

Our guiding principle has always been to have a program that respects Islamic guidelines.  To meet this requirement, we requested the Council of Imams of Ottawa-Gatineau to thoroughly review our matrimonial program proposal. After incorporating feedback from our Imams, we were able to secure their support for our I.LEAD Matrimonial event, Alhamdulillah. We have designed a program that is unconventional yet Islamically-appropriate to help our single Muslim brothers and sisters.

What are some of the benefits of returning to the EY Centre for this year's conference?

The I.LEAD Conference has been steadily growing and progressing. After holding the conference in Gatineau for the past two years, coming back to the EY Centre in Ottawa brings us back to the conference's original roots. It is a highly convenient location that is closer and more easily accessible for many people. The venue is spacious, close to the airport, off a major road with ample parking and the latest technology. We look forward to continuing to host the conference there inshaa Allah for years to come, with support from our many Muslim brothers and sisters in Gatineau, Montreal, Kingston and beyond!

How will Muslim families (couples with children) benefit from this event? How will individuals Muslim Adults benefit from this event? How will Muslim youth benefit from this event?

ILEAD 2016 presents families with the opportunity to spend the day together in various parallel activities. Aside from lectures with powerful speakers, there will also be a dedicated drop-off Children's Program for ages 7 to 12 years, professional daycare service for ages 3 to 6 years, a vibrant bazaar with everything from books to halaal ethnic food and entertainment by a hilarious stand up comedian

The drop-off Children's Program is unique to ILEAD as it presents a mini-conference with professional speakers, professional science and animal shows, interactive Quran stories workshops, Quran competition, and Calligraphic Art and Essay Competitions with prizes and other fun activities. Children will have the opportunity to play on bouncy castles, visit the bazaar for cotton candy, and interact with other Muslim children and youth role models — all in the supervision and safe environment of the Children's Program.

The daycare service offers children ages 3 to 6 with a safe and fun play based care environment, and in the evening, there is an After-Hours program available to parents (at nominal cost) for their convenience.  

Everyone will benefit from this year’s conference, inshaa Allah. The theme of the first I.LEAD conference centered on youth. With the recent conference, we have shifted our focus to include everyone in the family. In addition to workshops and lectures in English, we will also have French and Arabic sessions. We hope to add other languages next year for our seniors who may only be fluent in their mother tongue.  

I.LEAD 2016 will truly be a time to make memories with your family while opening up new doors of knowledge and blessings, inshaa Allah.

To register for the I.LEAD Conference visit the website here

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