YouTuber Chesca Leigh created this fun YouTube Video which offers some great tips on how to be an ally.

During City for All Women (CAWI)’s workshop with Somerset-West Community Health Centre, we explored How To Be An Ally.

Here are some more great online resources to help you learn more about How to Be An Ally:

Mount Sinai Hospital’s ‘Are You An Ally?’ eLearning Module takes you step by step on how to become an ally and to launch an Ally campaign in your workplace

How To Be An Ally (Pride At Work Canada)

Becoming An Ally (Excerpt) by Anne Bishop (Alliance For Blind Canadians)

Getting Called Out: How to Apologize by Chesca Leigh. One of the important qualities of being an ally is recognizing when you have made a mistake, Chesca Leigh offers another fun video on how to apologize when you have said or done something oppressive.

So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know by Jamie Utt (EverydayFeminism, 2013)

After #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen: So You Want To Be An Ally, Now What? by Mikki Kendall (xojane, 2013)

I Can MANifest Change Campaign challenges men and boys to become allies in the fight against gender based violence (OCTEVAW)

How is Muslim Media Addressing Anti-Oppression?
I am now the Editor in Chief of Muslim Link, Ottawa’s Muslim Community Newspaper.
When I started working with the paper, I had to figure out how to bring an anti-oppressive perspective into a very new terrain, that of a community which itself is marginalized within mainstream Canadian society.
However, although Muslims may experience Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia, we also grapple with dynamics of expression, exclusion, and marginalization within our communities.
Any reflection on media and anti-oppression involves reflecting on who has the power to decide whose stories get told.
One way we have tried to address this is by developing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy.

The following are samples of stories aimed at trying to portray a more inclusive representation of Ottawa’s Muslim Communities:
Muslim Canadians Living with Disabilities

Bachar Awneh Wins Bronze at the Special Olympics Summer Games

First Nations Communities
Muslim Canadians, like all Canadian settlers, have a lot to learn about respecting First Nations Communities in Canada as equals, whose struggles should be brought to the forefront of our communities’ conversations about social justice.

Aboriginal Help Raise Funds for Islam Care Centre
Shady Hafez on Being Algonquin and Syrian

Marginalized Muslim Voices
There are a diversity of Muslim groups, sects, and religious orientations living in Ottawa. The largest community tends to dominate which Muslims’ stories get to be told. There are two stories aimed at addressing that.

Ahlul Bayt Islamic School Ranked Second Best In City

What does Ottawa’s Muslim Community Look Like? And who controls that image?
Ottawa Islamic School Graduation 2013

Our Elders, Our History
What questions need to be ask when a community aims at preserving its own history
A Muslim History of Ottawa

Muslim Anti-Racism Collective
A great resource for those who wish to learn more about how Muslims are addressing anti-racism and diversity is the Muslim Anti-Racism Collective’s website., in particular their Ramadan Anti-Racism section.

Islamophobia in the Media
Silent meaning: a cover photo of Muslim women by Diane Watt

Larger Version of Photo

kurd2“We are Christian. We are Muslim. We are Yazidi. We are Jews,” was called out on the loudspeaker as demonstrators from Ottawa’s Kurdish community gathered on Parliament Hill.
Rondek immediately caught my eye with her bright yellow abaya, covered in Kurdish flags.
Where did you get that from? I asked, referring to the abaya.
“Back home,” she replied.
By back home she meant the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, a province in Northern Iraq which holds the Kurdish diaspora’s hopes for a possible independent Kurdish state one day. Kurds, like Palestinians, lost out when Sykes-Picot decided to carve up the Middle East into states more in line with British and French interests than the demographic realities of the people who had to live there.

I lost Rondek as I tried to find one of the organizers to speak to. I had been invited by Pirjin Jaffer, and decided to attend out of personal interest, but with any demonstration I attend, I like to talk to the organizers. But Pirjin was nowhere to be found. But I recognized her sister, Vehman, and decided to chat with her to see anyone in attendance was actually Yazidi.
When I asked her she said that the demonstrators were mostly Sunni Muslim and some Christians. “There are not many Yazidi who have left Iraq. Although there are some in Germany,” she explained.
The lack of Yazidis in diaspora has a lot to do with their socio-economic marginalization in their countries of origin. Let’s face it, most refugee communities that make it to Canada are often made up of those who were relatively well-off in their homelands.
Ottawa’s Kurds are mainly a community of refugees who experienced displacement during the Iran-Iraq War and the Anfal, what Kurds label as a genocidal attack against their communities in Northern Iraq led by Saddam Hussain. The Anfal is officially recognized as genocide by the British, Swedish and Norwegian governments.

The Jaffer family hails from Dohuk province in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is home to a sizable Yazidi population. “People think they are devil worshipers but they are not,” she said.

Academic Sebastian Maisel conducted extensive field research with the Yezidi communities of Syria and Iraq and sums up the community as follows:

The Yezidis are an ancient Kurdish-speaking ethno-religious community. Although their enemies consider them members of a heretical, devil-worshipping sect, they do ascribe to a monotheistic belief system with roots in ancient Mesopotamian cultures, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam. Yezidis also venerate several angels; chief among them is Tawsi-Melek (the Peacock Angel), who is believed to act on behalf of God as custodian of the universe. The concepts of hell and eternal sin do not exist in Yezidism, but Yezidis do believe in reincarnation and transmigration. Similar to the Druze, Alawites, Shabak, and other syncretistic groups in the Middle East, the Yezidi community has a clerical hierarchy and strict rules regarding endogamous marriage and initiation.

“People have tried to destroy the Yazidi 72 times. This is the 73rd.” Vehman stated. She is actually referring to a Yazidi song, which lists the various communities that have tried to kill them, from the Arabs to the British.The Yazidi have faced persection in Iraq even under the US’s watch.

I have always been struck by the recognition amongst Kurds of their community’s religious diversity, although the majority of Kurds I have met in Canada identify as Sunni Muslim, they have always seemed aware of fellow Kurds who were Alevi Muslim, Jewish, Christian or Yazidi.
When I shared this observation to Vehman she agreed that she had been raised with an awareness of this diversity “Our villages were side by side, we spoke their languages and they spoke ours. Because of the Anfal in the 80s many of the Christians fled to other parts of Iraq or to Europe and America. The Jews fled to Israel. The Yazidis stayed although some fled to Europe,” she explained
I spotted Rondek again this time holding a poster.
Reading the poster, I realized that it was paraphrasing Pastor Emil Martin Niemöller famous statement, which exist in many versions, but generally goes:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Niemöller had been an early support of the Nazis, particularly their anti-communism. But as Nazi power progressed and asserted supremacy of the state over religious freedom, Niemöller spoke out against the government’s control of churches, and was placed in a concentration camp.
Neither Rondek or her brother Karim, were aware of the quote’s origin, but Karim explained to me what the quote meant to him and why he agrees with it.
“If no one speaks for others, like in the case of genocide, if it is not happening to you so you don’t fight for the other people who it is happening to, you never know it might happen to you one day and there will be no one to fight for you. So we have to give what we expect from others.”
Karim added that he felt that it was important to stand up for any community facing injustice, not just his own. “We are concerned about everybody, whether it is Arabs, whether it is Kurds, whether it’s Muslims or Christians, whether it is Gaza or Kurdistan, we need to speak out.”

To learn more about Kurds in Canada visit

The Kurds in Canada: A Question of Ethnic Identity by Judith Peralta (Carleton University Thesis)
The Kurdish House of Greater Toronto Website

Lady Yashodabai Joshi

Lady Yashodabai Joshi

I’m trying to get in the habit of writing about each book I read. I have just finished A Marathi Saga: The Story of Sir Moropant and Lady Yashodabai Joshi as narrated to her daughter Manik and translated from Marathi by her grandson Vijay Kumar Bhide, and published by Roli Books, India.

I found  the book in the Book Market in Ottawa for about $6.00. I always love when I find books published in another country at Used Books Stores here in Ottawa. It is like stumbling upon buried treasure.

I love history but prefer to read about history from memoirs where the bias is so much more obvious. A Marathi Saga gave me insights into Indian social reform movements from the late 19th to early 20th centuries from the perspective of an elite Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin woman whose husband was a prominent lawyer, civil servant, and social reformer.

Lady Joshi marries her husband when she is still only six and he is 13 in 1874. Abolishing Child Marriage would be the major social reform Sir Moropant Joshi would become known for with the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929. Other social reforms discussed in the memoir are widow remarriage and women’s education.

Lady Joshi is able to become literate because of her husband who also believes in women’s education, eventually sending off one of their daughters get trained as a medical doctor in England. In 1892, with her husband’s encouragement, Lady Joshi helped to found the Vanita Samaj in Amravati, an organization aimed at empowering women through literacy and postnatal classes as well a support for marginalized women like widows. Her daughters would go on to be involved in the All India Women’s Conference.

The Joshis clearly become friends and confidants but what I found most amusing was how in her memoir Lady Joshi disagrees with her husband. At one point she worries that he’s becoming an atheist and she asserts her own deep and sincere belief in God. Her husband is very critical of the caste system and although Lady Joshi doesn’t think people of different castes should be discriminated against that doesn’t mean she wants her children to marry out of their castes, which she compares to maintaining a “pedigree” like horses and dogs. So, although Lady Joshi is definitely shaped by her husband she is very much her own person which comes out in the memoir. Lady Joshi is active in the “uplift of women” but her main focus is her children and grandchildren, their physical health, education, careers, and marriages. We learn a lot from this in terms of how elite families replicate their privileges in the new positions emerging within the law, the civil service, the military, and business. She is also quite concerned about the mental health of her family. It is quite touching as we know that this history is being recited to her daughter Manik whose mental health is a constant concern of Lady Joshi throughout the memoir.

In reading the memoir, I realized that a lot of my previous reading about India was really focused on Northern India. She also provides insights into how the Indian Princely States were administered quite differently under colonialism as one of her daughters ends up marrying the Raja of Sangli. These states would eventually be abolished after independence.

The memoir also includes interesting anecdotes about famous people such as Jinnah and Nehru. Lady Joshi isn’t a great fan of the Congress Party and on her death-bed she predicts that its politicians will be corrupt. These concerns are echoed by her grandson in the memoir’s epilogue.

It also granted me some insights into the traditions of the Brahmin caste and how difficult it was to try to defy this. Sir Moropant Joshi is quite critical of many of these traditions and could be said to be a secularist. When after coming back to Indian after traveling to England he refuses to perform the required Prayaschitta ceremony required after someone crosses the sea, the Joshis find themselves facing ostracism as they are considered ritually unclean even by fellow Brahmin social reformers. I also got to learn about basic Hindu rites of passage such as the Sacred Thread Ceremony.

Lady Joshi still a deep believer in Hinduism. In her later life he begins to follow a Sikh Guru along with her husband, who seems to finally take up a spiritual life despite having seemed to be something of an atheist in his early days. She even has the Guru Granth Sahib read for her over a period of 72 hours in order to help with the illness would eventually lead to her death. She dies believing that she has worked out her karma in this life and will not have to go through rebirth again.

Her daughter Manik writes about how she dies, letting us know that her mangalsutra, the necklace given to a wife by her husband in the Hindu marriage ceremony isn’t consumed in her funeral pyre, the sign of a true wife. Lady Joshi’s grandson writes an interesting epilogue catching us up on the family’s history to 1999 and bemoaning the lack of an intellectual political culture in modern-day India in comparison to that described in Lady Joshi’s memoir.

The memoir spans from about 1868 and ends shortly after independence in 1948. It was published in Marathi in 1965 and in English in 2003.

Further Reading:

Book Review in The Hindu

On the Sacred Thread Ceremony: A Hindu Bar Mitvah by  Visi Tilak

I attended the film screening of The Lost Years: A People’s Struggle for Justice by Edmonton-based filmmaker Kenda Gee and Tom Radford at the Library and Archives. The screening was hosted by the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre and CBC Ottawa and was incredibly well attended.

LOST YEARS is an epic documentary touching upon 150 years of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia, covering four generations of racism as revealed through the journey and family story of Kenda Gee. Kenda, a Chinese Canadian, travels with his father to China to retrace the steps of his great-grandfather, exactly a century ago, and grandfather, who sailed to Canada in the summer of 1921. For thousands of Chinese immigrants that year, it was a journey of hope that turned into a nightmare when they were confronted with racism and the head tax, depriving them of their rights as citizens.

I was particularly interested in watching the film because the impact of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act was really brought home to me when one of my mentor’s, Yew Lee, began campaigning for redress for people who paid Head Tax, their spouses, and descendents. Yew Lee’s father came to Canada and had to pay a head tax. The Exclusion Act prevented his family from being united for some 30 years, resulting in a great deal of family difficulties. His family’s story is featured in the 2004 documentary In the Shadow of Gold Mountain by Karen Cho. When I first learned about his story, I was quite disturbed that this racist legislation was not well-known by most Canadians. We are raised to believe that Canada has always been an inclusive and multicultural society but this is not true and it is important to understand our history if we wish to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes. Also, as a Black Canadian, I feel that it is important for us to learn about the struggles of other racialized communities in order to put our own struggles against racism in perspective and find ways to find allies and work in solidarity on issues of discrimination.

Audience at the Ottawa Screening of The Lost Years

This film is a good introduction to the historical legacy and personal impact of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act on generations of Chinese Canadians. As Devon Wong wrote in his review of the film for BC-based Schema Magazine:

In many ways, Lost Years delved directly into the part of my own family heritage that I’d given up trying to access. I’d never been able to have the conversations around my own family’s migration, despite having my great-grandfather arrive in Canada over a hundred years ago. I’d lost the language on the way, and the ability to communicate and understand their struggles.

I invited my friend and co-worker who is a Chinese International Student to the screening and she was surprised to learn about this history as it is also not well-known in China itself. I was glad to learn from filmmaker Kenda Gee, who spoke at the screening, that the film has been shown in China itself, most notably winning the Best Documentary Award and Prize for History & Culture at the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival.

Kenda Gee, whose great-grandfather came to Canada in 1910 and who was Chair of Edmonton’s Chinese Head Tax & Exclusion Act (Redress) Committee since 1998, was initially reluctant to explore his own family’s history in the documentary, as he explained in a 2011 interview with the Edmonton Journal:

I was very averse to using the story because there are so many stories in the community that should be told… But Tom (Radford) was very insistent. … My condition was that I said ‘as long as whoever’s watching the documentary, especially Chinese Canadians, can see the same story through the eyes of the storyteller.’ So it’s not so much my family’s story, but that they can identify, ‘This has happened to us as well’

I am glad that Gee used his own family’s story to situate the history he is trying to explore. This also allows for some very poignant moments in the film, such as Gee returning with his 78 year old father to his family’s ancestral village in Taishan County, Guangdong Province, China, which was once a farming community but has now made way for factories in the process of China’s industrialization. This was quite meaningful for me as many of my Chinese Canadian friends’ families also originate from Taishan and often were raised speaking the Taishan dialect which they learned from their grandparents.

We were able to view both episodes of the mini-series at this event. These episodes were shown on CBC’s Absolutely Canadian in February and my hope is that they will be screened again soon.

Episode 1: The Loh Wah Kiu Beginning with the fall of the last Chinese (Qing) dynasty in 1911, to the end of the Second World War, this episode recalls decades of anti-Chinese racism in North America, from Vancouver Island, Angel Island and beyond. Kenda’s journey takes him across Canada and the USA, tracing the experiences of Chinese immigrants and their descendants. Their personal stories document the enormous obstacles they faced before they would become citizens in their own countries of birth

“Loh Wah Kiu” means “Old Overseas Chinese”, the earliest generations to emigrate from China. This episode features interviews with some fascinating Chinese Canadians and Americans.

Gim Wong: I actually had a chance to meet Royal Canadian Air Force Veteran Gim Wong years ago in relation to the Redress Campaign and I had previously viewed the 2004 documentary In the Shadow of Gold Mountain by Karen Cho, in which he is interviewed. Gim Wong is quite fiery in the film and I would never want to get on this man’s bad side. But this man has had a life of struggle. Back in 2005 at the age of 82, Gim Wong rode his motorcycle across Canada in order to raise media and public awareness about the Campaign to demand Redress for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. In 1922, Wong was born in Vancouver’s Chinatown. His father came to Canada in 1906. His mother was able to come to the country in 1921 during the brief window between the end of the First World War and the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923 when the Exclusion Act prevented the immigration of Chinese to Canada. Wong grew up in poverty like many Chinese Canadians at the time and had to face harsh racism (He describes a racist experience in this CBC Video Interview ). Wong joined the military in 1943 at the age of 22, eventually becoming an air-gunner with the Royal Air Force. However, in 1944, when Chinese Canadian men were drafted by the government, Wong was angered-it seemed unjust to demand military service from a community that didn’t even have the right to vote! (In B.C. legislation was passed in 1871 barring Chinese Canadians from the right to vote, this was only remedied in 1947 after the Exclusion Act was repealed). Wong first voted in 1953.To learn more about the experience of British Columbia’s Chinese Canadians in World War II, I recommend the documentary Unwanted Soldiers by Jari Osborne which is available online.  In 1959, Wong married in Hong Kong but his wife was denied entry into Canada because she was labeled a “Communist” for having attend a Communist run school-during the height of the Cold War this was a very serious accusation. Eventually, with the support of his local MP, Wong was able to get his wife to Canada.

Larry Kwong: Born in Vernon, British Columbia, Larry Kwong is the first Chinese Canadian to ever play in the National Hockey League. He would eventually go on to play for the New York Rangers. He now lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Bettie Luke: Chinese American Bettie Luke is the Chair of the 2011 Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project. During her interview in the film, we learn about the horrifying Chinese Expulsion Riots of 1886 in Seattle during which racist rioters, driven by anti-Chinese hysteria, drove approximately 350 Chinese migrants from their homes on to a steamship meant to send them back to China. Luke organized a march from the Seattle docks through Chinatown in order to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the riots. Due to her efforts to raise awareness of this dark chapter in Seattle’s history, February 7th is now officially Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Day in all of King County, Washington. Luke has a personal connection to the riots. Her father’s uncle was the Seattle Mayor’s houseboy at the time and therefore was not expelled because he was protected. Luke is the sister of Wing Luke, the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Pacific Northwest. Wing was instrumental in Seattle’s passing of an Open Housing Ordinance in 1963 with punitive provisions against racial discrimination in the selling or renting of real estate. He died tragically in 1965. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, located in Seattle’s Chinatown, was named after him.

Episode 2 Jook Sing: In what may be his last opportunity to retrace his ancestral past with his father Took, Kenda Gee returns to his family’s ancestral village in Taishan, China. Along the way, Kenda discovers through the stories of the Chinese diaspora abroad that racism has no borders, his journey eventually taking him to Australia’s Parliament in the capital of Canberra, where white supremacy policies and anti-Chinese legislation in the British Commonwealth find their genesis. The episode ends with a Canadian nation still trying to confront its racist past, following the federal government’s official acknowledgement in Ottawa in 2006.

Jook Sing” is a Cantonese term used to describe Overseas Chinese who are perceived to have lost their distinctive Chinese cultural identity and been Westernized.  This is a fitting title for the second episode when Gee returns to China with his father. The reality is that although this is their ancestral home, their cultural connections to the country are minimal. This is the cruel irony of racism because it denies a sense of belonging to racialized communities in the countries where we call home, but we are often no longer really connected to our countries and cultures of origin-so where do we belong? This episode also includes some very interesting interviews:

Esther Fung: I appreciated that Gee makes stops in other countries where early Chinese immigrants tried to make their home and often faced similar racism and exclusion. In New Zealand, the “head tax” was called the “poll tax”. Retired high school teacher Esther Fung is a Chinese New Zealander who lead a redress campaign in that country  which eventually led to a formal apology from the New Zealand Government in 2002.

May Chiu: Lawyer and Community Activist May Chiu ran in the 2006 Canadian Federal Election against then Prime Minister Paul Martin. Her campaign focused on raising awareness about the demand for redress from Martin’s ruling Liberal Party who had refused to issue a parliamentary apology for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act or to offer compensation to living Head Tax payers and their descendents. Chiu is the former Executive Director of Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal.

Normie Kwong: The first Chinese Canadian to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Normie Kwong was a professional football player who won four Grey Cups. He was the first Chinese Canadian to play on a professional Canadian football team. Recipient of the Order of Canada, Normie Kwong is featured in this Historica Canada Heritage Minute)

I highly recommend watching The Lost Years along with another great documentary about the early Chinese Canadian experience In the Shadow of Gold Mountain by Karen Cho which is available online here at the National Film Board of Canada website.

Further Reading:

The Lost Years A People’s Struggle for Justice Site

Lost Years’ YouTube Page

Review by Devon Wong in Schema Magazine

CBC Radio Edmonton Interview (August 19, 2011) with Kenda Gee and Tom Radford available online

Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act

The Chinese Head Tax Redress Campaign Site

The Early Chinese Canadians 1858–1947: Head Tax Records: (Library and Archives Canada)

Address (22 June 2006) by the Prime Minister at a reception for members of the Chinese Community

Chinese Head Tax Redress (Government of Canada)

Head Tax Families Society of Canada Site

In the Shadow of Gold Mountain by Karen Cho, film available online

About my “Loh Wah Kui” Family essay available online by Sid Tan

Transcript of a CTV Interview (2000) with Yew Lee available online

Chinese Canadian History

Chinese Canadian Genealogy Site (Vancouver Public Library)

Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society Website

Unwanted Soldiers by Jari Osborne, film available online

Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past Web Portal

Chinese Canadian Women, 1923-1967: Inspiration – Innovation – Ingenuity Website

Chinese Canadian Community Organizations

Chinese Canadian National Council

Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre

Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre Website

Chinese in New Zealand

Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust (Government of New Zealand)

The Chinese in New Zealand Site by Steven Young

New Zealand Apology to Chinese Migrants (February 13 2002) CNN Article available online

I attended a fundraiser at the University of Ottawa organized by the Afghan Student Association (ASA). Here is a description of ASA:

The Afghan Student Association is an academic, non-profit, student-run social club created by the students of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Throughout the years we have been working towards building an awareness of the Afghan culture within the community and raising funds to aid children deprived of education rights by working alongside other local clubs.

The event focused on the need to “Educate, Empower, and Advance” Afghan women. It was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Afghanistan in Ottawa and was raising funds for the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) teacher training program in Afghanistan.

The highlight of the event was a presentation by Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, an Afghan Women’s Rights activist who is currently studying for a Masters in Communications at the University of Ottawa. Here is her biography from the Vital Voices Website:

As a refugee living in Pakistan, Sadiqa Basiri Saleem was close to earning a medical degree when the Taliban shut down her Afghan-run school. When she returned home to Wardak province after the fall of the Taliban, she found 150,000 girls with no hope for an education — for years, the regime had forbidden girls over the age of eight from attending school.

So Sadiqa and three other women pooled their money. They provided 36 girls with uniforms, supplies and funding to study in an abandoned mosque.

Outcries against “superfluous” women’s education and anonymous threats poured in, but the Oruj Learning Center flourished. The Center now educates over 2,700 girls in six schools and more than 200 women at four literacy centers.

Sadiqa has also established the Family Welfare Center for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a domestic violence prevention project that provides services to 14,000 Afghan women, trains government staff on domestic violence and encourages spiritual leaders to discuss women’s issues constructively.

Her goals are ambitious — two new schools for returnees and internally displaced persons, an Afghan Women’s Leadership Institute to train high school graduates in business management and leadership skills, and an expanded gifted students program.

At the tender age of 28, Sadiqa has already made a lifetime of extraordinary contributions to the development of a new Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and missed a speech by Afghan Canadian feminist blogger Zahira Sarwar but she writes about her presentation on her blog here.

I love how we have so many wonderful people living in Ottawa, even if they are here for only a short time!

Further Reading:

Afghan Student Association’s Website

About Sadiqa Bashiri Saleem

Profile from Mount Holyoke College

Oruj Learning Center’s Website

Home-Schooling (Newsweek, 2009) article available online