World Hijab Day event scores biggest crowd yet

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

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Two-year-old Maaria glances into a mirror, after having a hijab placed on her head at the third annual Fort McMurray World Hijab Day event. PHOTO: DAWN BOOTH, Connect WeeklyWith over 250 guests and $1,750 in donations raised for Syrian refugees, the Fort McMurray World Hijab Day committee hosted their most successful event to date.

Local men, women and children from all backgrounds, race and ethnicities packed the Peter Pond Mall’s Centre Court for an afternoon of unity and understanding.

President and Co-founder of the Fort McMurray World Hijab Day (WHDYMM) Kiran Malik-Khan said this year’s event was even more important to the committee compared to previous years, due to the attention involved around Islam and the recent global events.

“We just want people to know the hijab is a part of our identity. This isn’t oppression,” she said. “It’s our modesty, honour and beauty combined.”

She said they wanted to express the reality behind the hijab and continue sharing their message with local residents.

“We just want people to know the hijab is a part of our identity. This isn’t oppression,” she said. “It’s our modesty, honour and beauty combined.”

As a result to the January 31 event, Malik-Khan said they made residents feel welcomed, as many volunteers were camera-ready to capture their reactions and smiles.

“People were laughing and having fun. It was a perfect afternoon out with the girls for most,” she said. “A lot of feedback, a lot, were from women trying on the hijabs. They said that they felt like celebrities with the photos and videos being captured.”

Tricia Monsour is a recent Fort McMurray resident, who moved to the city in October 2015 from London, Ontario. This being her first time at the local event, she said it was wonderful to be “a part of something dedicated to further inclusion and understanding.”

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The Fort McMurray World Hijab Day committee with volunteers at the Peter Pond Mall’s Centre Court before they kicked off the event, which brought in over 250 guests in attendance. PHOTO: Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

She further explained how she had worn a hijab before, but never in public.

“This was my first time wearing one in such a public setting,” Monsour said. “On a personal level, wearing the hijab is a very emotional experience. It connects me to my history and also makes me proud.”

Special guests MLA of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Tany Yao and Deputy Mayor Keith McGrath were also in attendance to address the public and they congratulated the committee and volunteers for their continued success on bringing education to Fort McMurray’s diverse community.

“My life was filled with severe depression and hopelessness before I found Islam,” she said. “I always knew I was different. I didn’t quite fit in. Who would’ve ever guessed I’d become a Muslim? Definitely not me.”

Local resident Megan Rose has been donning a hijab for the past two years and she shared her story in a speech at the event.

“My life was filled with severe depression and hopelessness before I found Islam,” she said. “I always knew I was different. I didn’t quite fit in. Who would’ve ever guessed I’d become a Muslim? Definitely not me.”

She continued to explain how wearing a hijab makes her feel empowered and called her hijab her crown that is shared by many women in a wide variety of professions.

“We are doctors. We are engineers. We are professional wrestlers. We are whoever we want to be because we are hijabis.”

The organizers said they plan to continue this event for years to come. Residents can stay up-to-date with the WHDYMM committee through social media on Facebook at “World Hijab Day YMM” and on Twitter: @WHDYMM.

– Connect Weekly –