“Islamic Heritage Month is a month where we have the opportunity to honour the journey, the contributions, and the narrative of those in the community,” explains Shahana Arain, Vice-Principal at Northern Dancer Public School in Oshawa.
Arain co-chairs the Muslim Educators Network of Durham (MEND) with Imran Syed, Principal of Sir John A. MacDonald Public School in Pickering.
To kick off the month, MEND and the Durham District School Board (DDSB) held an open house on October 4 at Michaëlle Jean Public School in Ajax. The open house highlighted the events planned to celebrate the month, with each of the planned events having its own booth.
All DDSB families are invited to participate and enjoy the Islamic Heritage Month events.
On October 11, MEND hosted a Paint Night at Viola Desmond Public School in Ajax. Under the expert instruction of local artists, families created a themed painting that explores the richness of Islamic cultures around the world. Arain notes, “Paint Night is a really fast-hitting trend and there’s a lot of people from different communities and identities that really love the idea of being able to show off their creative and artistic styles.”
Still to come
On October 18 at the Whitby Soccer Dome, girls in Grade 4 to 12 are invited to join the Hijabi Ballers (a project that encourages the participation of women in all sports) and Coach Amreen Kadwa in an introduction to flag rugby. On the same day and at the same location, students in Grades 4 to 12 are invited to learn how to play cricket, or enjoy a friendly game of indoor soccer.
On October 25, DDSB families are welcome to join the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) for an evening of fun and interactive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-oriented activities. Hosted at Northern Dancer Public School in Oshawa, learning stations will be set up and geared toward students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 8.
Creating community opportunities
“We want to make sure that our work is not just hosting events of this nature, but also creating opportunities for the community,” says Arain. MEND chose to host events that target what the community is looking to continue exploring, such as: art, female empowerment in sports, and STEM.
Mohamed Hamid, Superintendent of Equity for the DDSB says, “The events of this month highlight the role that Canadian Muslims play in our society and provide an opportunity for the community to feel valued and really have that sense of getting together.”
By Sarah Racioppa