When engaging in charity, we often think of people in other countries around the world as the only ones in need of humanitarian help. We ignore the needs of people - specifically the Indigenous communities - in Canada. The living conditions of Indigenous communities in Canada are as bad, if not worse, than many poverty-stricken communities in underdeveloped countries.
“We [Indigenous Peoples and Muslims] come at life from a place of peace... from a place of honouring and recognizing the importance of our spiritual and religious practices...We have so much in common.” - Elder Joanne Dallaire
While learning about indigenous peoples in my Grade 7 History Class at Al Furqan School, we sought to bring some authentic voices to our classroom. Kiera Brant, an indigenous woman and a graduate student at the University of Ottawa, gave a speech to our class on the difficulty of being an indigenous person in our day and age in Canada. She also spoke about the discrimination and past struggles faced by indigenous peoples.
Students at Maingate Islamic Academy in Mississauga participated in a workshop called The Blanket Exercise, which explores the impact of colonialism on the indigenous peoples of Canada. Student reporters from the school Zaynab Mamai, Sumaya Abdulle, and Dima Traboulsi, with the support of their teacher, Sanaa Ali-Mohammed, wrote the following article about their experience.
Two primary objectives of the residential school system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child.” Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, official apology, June 11, 2008
Muslim Link is grateful to Shady Hafez for letting us publish his original blog post discussing media and community reactions to Carlos and Ashton Larmond’s application for Indian Status.
The 24 year old Larmond Twins converted to Islam five years ago, according to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), and were raised by their grandmother, Linda Brennan, in Vanier where they attended Rideau High school. Both twins have been arrested on allegations of participating in the activity of a terrorist group as part of the RCMP’s Project Servant arrests. Carlos Larmond has been accused of planning to leave Canada with the intention of joining ISIS.
Ottawa’s Muslim community is full of uncommon mixed race identities, but Shady Hafez, 25, 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.
“Does anyone know why the eagle is so important in Aboriginal culture?” Jason Mullins, dressed in full Cherokee regalia, asked a riveted audience of mostly Muslim community members at Knox Presbyterian Church on April 13.
Mullins, an American-born First Nations cultural interpreter who works with the Ottawa organization Aboriginal Experiences, was one of many Aboriginal artists to offer his time and talent to support the Islam Care Centre's fundraising efforts.