As Canada marks Islamic Heritage Month this October, an Ontario university has held several events to highlight Islamic culture, honor Muslim students, and create an inclusive campus.
“It is a great opportunity and it is creating and fostering an inclusive campus for students, faculty and staff members,” Selda Sezen, faculty and Muslim Chaplin at Wilfrid Laurier University, told The Cord reported.
“I believe that inclusiveness and recognizing diversity makes a huge difference in the life of the Muslim community on campus.”
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Canada annually celebrates Islamic History Month in the whole month of October, and the focus this year is on sharing and healing from anti-indigenous racism and Islamophobia.
Throughout the country, communities organize information sessions, joint healing circles, inviting Indigenous people to mosques, hosting art exhibits, highlighting artists and hosting any other relevant, COVID-safe gatherings.
The events aim to celebrate, inform, educate, and share with fellow Canadians the rich Muslim heritage and contributions to society.
One of the events that Sezen presented this month was the “Understanding and Dismantling Islamophobia in Classroom and Research Settings” workshop which covered the impacts of Islamophobia on Muslims at Laurier.
“Islamophobia has a significant impact on students, faculty and staff members’ experiences on campus, including their mental health, social wellness, campus involvement and also the academic performance of our community members,” she said.
Sezen hopes these events will also create an inclusive campus for students of all faiths.
“Faculty and staff members’ role starts here: to recognize the symptoms, to recognize the impact of Islamophobic sentiments on the Muslim community on campus, and take opportunity of Islamic Heritage Month to welcome, understand, and support these community members and meet their needs to have a better, peaceful campus and create a healthy living environment,” she said.
Muslims are the fastest-growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Historically, Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.