Chief Commissioner’s speech at the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) press conference
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Press conference: the National Council of Canadian Muslims together with the Islamic Social Services Association to launch new guide for educators
August 25, 2016
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Hello everyone. Bonjour. Peace be with you.
I am so glad to be here today to stand together with my friend Shahina Siddiqui and the dedicated people at the Islamic Social Services Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission is honoured to have supported these organizations in the creation of this excellent guide.
We believe this guide is being launched at an important time in Canada.
And here is why…
As the messages from our country’s leaders continue to be positive and optimistic, there is a natural tendency among many Canadians to take for granted that we live in a society guided by inclusion, respect and equality.
But the reality is that now more than ever, we must be extra careful not to take our Canadian values for granted.
While inclusion, respect and equality are values that we cherish in Canada, they are put to the test by Islamophobic images, stereotypes and news reports of violence against Muslim people here in Canada.
This is not a Muslim issue—this is a Canadian issue and it affects us all.
- When a woman of Muslim faith is verbally assaulted while shopping with her child, we are all diminished by it.
- When a man suffers a concussion from a physical assault, we all bear witness to it.
- And when an 8 year old child is accused of carrying a knife because of a head covering, we are all the lesser for it.
Because when something or someone threatens the freedom of one group of people in Canada, all of our freedoms are threatened.
It is the responsibility of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and of every Canadian citizen, to stand together with their Canadian Muslim friends to help counter these negative messages.
We must speak out and be intolerant of intolerance, because silence only makes us complicit.
But even more than just speaking out, we must all insist upon full inclusion for all.
To me, “full inclusion for all” means making sure that Muslim children in Canada can grow up with the certainty that their faith and their culture are respected and understood.
We are happy to work with ISSA and the NCCM on this project and I applaud their hard-work and leadership that led to this result.
I am confident that this guide will help our teachers create more inclusive spaces for Canadian Muslim students.
At the heart of this guide is the powerful idea that all children deserve a classroom where they feel safe and understood.
This guide invites the reader to step into the shoes of a Muslim child in Canada who may be grappling with various forms of trauma or rejection — a child who is simply looking for validation and a positive space in which to grow and learn.
And by creating more inclusive schools and classrooms for our children, we are building a more inclusive Canada. One classroom at a time.
Diversity, after all, only makes us stronger as a country. And it starts with our children.
Thank you again to the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Islamic Social Services Association for the tireless work you do every day to promote equality and protect the rights of Muslim children across Canada.
Thank you specifically to Shahina Siddiqui for your dedication to human rights and for making a difference in the lives of so many.
Please consider us your friend and ally.
Thank you and peace be with you.