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Building community and connection in honour of Islamic Heritage Month

November 05, 2021

By Farhan Zia (Co-Chair, Muslim Employee Community Network)

Since 2007, the Government of Canada has recognized October as Islamic Heritage Month (external link) . This month symbolizes a recognition of the Muslim community’s contributions to arts, culture, academics, knowledge and the advancement of society in Canada and globally. It provides an annual opportunity for all people to celebrate the achievements of Muslim Canadians, about the history of Islam in Canada, elevate Muslim voices and to join together against anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia. 

Islamic Heritage Month also provides an opportunity to learn about the Canadian Muslim experience. The last year has been a particularly trying time for Muslim communities as it saw an increase of acts of racism, hate and terrorism, both domestically and abroad. 

“Heinous acts of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia are rooted in a long history of racism and discrimination that impacts Muslims on a daily basis in Canada. I call on all members of the university community to honour Islamic Heritage Month not just every October, but year round. Muslim heritage is Canadian heritage, and we honour and celebrate the Muslim people who make our communities unique, dynamic and vibrant.”

Dr. Denise O’Neil Green, Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion

Looking for a way to distract from all of the negativity their members face, the Muslim Employee Community Network hosted an on-campus celebration on October 27 in the Kerr Hall Quad. The rare warm late-October day was exactly the break members of the Network were looking for to reconnect with each other, introduce new members and express joy.

“Meeting in person was important to us. We were hoping to provide the community with an opportunity to feel normal again. Despite the social anxieties brought on by an in-person post-pandemic event, there’s a comfort in being near a group of people who understand you. You can let your guard down.”

Imran Ali, co-chair of the Muslim Employee Community Network

Muslims are far from a monolith. The diverse community contains individuals who belong to several and intersecting identities. Employee equity networks are supportive communities that provide a sense of belonging and familiarity, along with additional benefits like networking and mentorship.

Salman Rana, a Creative Industries faculty member, newly joined Ryerson in 2021. “Although I’m new to the university and the network, it felt like I was meeting a group of old friends. Even just getting the chance to meet on campus and see the view of the city from the Quad was a great experience.”

The Muslim Employee Community Network provides resources to staff and faculty members who identify as Muslim. Interested individuals, including allies, are encouraged to sign up for the Network’s monthly newsletter (external link)  to stay up to date on events and programs.