For the past six years, the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW has presented an outstanding, enjoyable and free community event each June at the Kitchener City Hall, to enhance communication and build bridges of understanding with the larger community, to provide a venue for artistic and cultural expression for its members, to counter negative stereotypes about Muslim women, and to strive towards their vision of a just and harmonious community where Muslim women are valued, engaged, empowered and recognized as leaders. Here are highlights of our first six community outreach events. Stay tuned for information about our 2017 events.
“A Day of Dialogue with Muslim Women” (June 11, 2011): This groundbreaking event, which earned a nomination for a KW Arts Award, was attended by over 200 community members at Kitchener City Hall. The objective was to invite the public to obtain firsthand knowledge about the lives of average Muslim women while countering stereotypical, one-dimensional views often held about Muslim women. The event had the following three components:
A 15-minute, specially created video: “Muslim Women, We Want you to Know” featuring the “passion statements” of 12 local Muslim women.
Interactive panel presentations by five local Muslim women focusing on five key topics: Islamic Dress and Hijab; Marriage, Divorce and Children; Religious Duties and Practices; Rights and Responsibilities; and Education, Careers and Leadership.
A “Human Library” featuring 26 local Muslim women who interacted one-to- one with
participants and encouraged them to ask questions to learn about their real lives
“Unveil the Fun with Muslim Women (June 3, 2012): This second CMW event, attended by over 350 people at Kitchener City Hall, presented Muslim female entertainment in the artistic mediums of drama, comedy, rap poetry, storytelling, calligraphy, henna and fine art. The event also offered a “Try on a Hijab” booth. The objective was to use the language of art to diminish the stereotype of Muslim women as shy, withdrawn individuals and replace it with a more accurate image of creative and fun-loving women who enjoy expressing themselves through a variety of mediums, including visual and performing arts. Highlights included the performance of the play “Unveiled” by actress and playwright Rohina
Malik, spellbinding storytelling by Canadian storyteller and author Rukhsana Khan, and performances of spoken word poetry by young local Muslim Sisters Amal Albaz, Nasteexo Muse and Zainab Mahdi. This event also provided free henna and calligraphy booths, a fine art exhibit by local Muslim artists, and a very popular “Try on a Hijab” booth.
“Muslim Women, Now and Then” (June 9, 2013): This third CMW event at Kitchener City Hall had something for everyone…original theater and poetry, fascinating panel presentations and a bustling bazaar! The objective of the event was to build bridges of understanding with the larger community, and to highlight outstanding Muslim women, especially those who have succeeded through activism, both now and then. A play specially
written for the event by Canadian playwright Timaj Garad made its debut at the event. The play was titled “Footsteps: The Counter Narrative”, and it concerned the diverse journeys of various Muslim women, past and present, who have challenged stereotypes and misconceptions about being a Muslim woman. The afternoon also featured a panel of four successful Muslim women who spoke about activism in various forms: legal activism, political activism, artistic activism and community activism. The event featured our sparkling outdoor bazaar which offered colourful crafts, cultural clothing, jewelry and art, all sold by local Muslim women entrepreneurs.
“Muslim Women Through a Diverse Lens” (June 8, 2014): This culturally outstanding event at Kitchener City Hall featured two prominent aspects: a keynote address by acclaimed educator Dr. Ingrid Mattson on the topic, “Muslim Women You Should Know”, and a living theater presentation, “Windows to the Glorious Past”. In the theater presentation, six local Muslim actresses portrayed six historical Muslim women from various parts of the world, and the public was invited to interact with them, one-to- one. The objective of the event was eloquently stated by Event Coordinator and CMW member Hala Barghash: “Muslim women are often seen through the lens of prejudice and stereotype. Our event offers
the public the opportunity to clearly see Muslim women up close and personal, while enjoying our sincere welcome and wonderful activities.” The event once again featured our colourful bazaar, complete with the now famous “Try on a Hijab Booth”, calligraphy and henna booths, and a new feature, a “KIDSZONE” with children’s entertainers, face painting and crafts.
“Tea and Tales with Muslim Women” (June 7, 2015): was the Coalition’s 5 th annual Muslim women’s festival. The objective of the event was stated by Event Coordinator Zohra Wali: “We invite the general public to participate in this unique opportunity to get to know Muslim women through art, entertainment and dialogue, and personally enjoy chat and chai tea with Muslim women of many cultures!”Taking place at Kitchener City
Hall, the event featured the premiere performance of Muslim playwright Timaj Garad’s “Daughter of the Moon”, a theatrical fusion of spoken word poetry and storytelling. There was also spoken word poetry performed by Zainab Mahdi and Sana Abuleil, stand-up comedy by
Canada’s premiere Muslim comedienne, Shelina Merani,and a rendition by seasoned storyteller Fran Pappert-Shannon of the Coalition’s own story, “Looking Back, Looking Forwards”. The National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Human Rights Coordinator, Amira Elghawaby, provided the powerful Keynote address on “The State and Muslim Women”…The festival also invited local people to sit and have tea with Muslim sisters from various cultural
backgrounds in our innovative Cultural Cafe, to learn about the Sisters’ countries of origin, and the status of women in those countries. Once again, the event featured a dazzling bazaar, free henna and calligraphy, our famous “Try on a Hijab” booth, and a “funtastic” KIDSZONE.
“Meet The Men Who Stand Beside Us!” (June 4, 2016) The objective of this 6th annual CMW Muslim women's festival was to celebrate Muslim women’s male allies who support, empower and inspire them, including husbands, fathers, sons, friends and imams! A multicultural bazaar with vendors selling a myriad of colourful products kicked off the event at 1 p.m. Also at the bazaar, the public was invited to visit free henna and calligraphy booths, along with CMW’s ever popular “Try on a Hijab” booth. There was special fun for the children at the event’s KidsZone. The formal program began at 3 p.m. with a fascinating panel of distinguished imams who are advocates of Muslim women’s rights: Hamid Slimi, Muneeb Nasir and Mirsad Kaplani. Following the imams’ presentations, there was a lively question and answer period with the audience. World renowned singer-songwriter
Dawud Wharnsby entertained the audience with his heartwarming tunes. Following Dawud’s performance, the public was invited to enjoy treats and conversation with local Muslim women and the men who stand beside them at our captivating Table Talks.