Tag Archives: Muslim

An Inclusive Canada?

15 Oct

Not being included, not having a feeling of belonging, or of being welcome can be uncomfortable, lonely, angry, sad (to name a few) – all of which add up to a feeling of separateness.

Depending on who we are, this feeling of not being included (of exclusion) can be familiar or unfamiliar.
If it’s unfamiliar, we can walk through our days with a sense of belonging that we can take for granted.
But if exclusion is a familiar feeling, there can be daily reminders that we don’t belong and are not welcome – looks, comments, actions, not feeling safe, physical altercations, being ignored or left out…etc.

Bullying is used to exclude: to make someone feel alone, unwelcome and ‘less than’. It happens in schools, on the playground, in workplaces, on the transit, on the street – and through the media on a large scale.
Spreading fear of the ‘Other’ is a more insidious form of bullying, which creates a negative stereotype of a group.  “Othering” is a tactic often used to ensure people (populations) follow suit, and participate in the alienation of a person or a group of people. These fear tactics producing an “Us vs Them” mentality have happened throughout history with devastating results (Nazi Germany & Rawanda are two examples) and it is currently happening quite visibly to the Muslim population Canada – whether already living here or as a consideration for entry. They are not the only group experiencing this in Canada, but it’s a current and particularly public example.

If you haven’t yet read the article in the Globe and Mail by Sheema Khan published on October 7 (Fifty years in Canada and now I feel like a second/class citizen) please do.

And then please reflect on the type of country you want to live in, and how your actions contribute: a country that values inclusion and human rights for everyone, or one where those values only apply to some people?

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

Radio Show Host – Creating Families


Why a hijab is not a hat

3 Mar

On Friday, a judge in Quebec refused to hear a case because the woman in her courtroom was wearing a hijab.
She likened it to someone wearing a hat or sunglasses – which are not permitted. Furthermore, she is reported to have said that the woman was not “suitably dressed”.
When I heard it on the radio I had to stop the car and take a moment.

Suitably dressed?!

Let’s consider the difference:
Hats and sunglasses are fashion accessories that we choose to wear.
Some Muslim women wear hijabs (head scarves) for religious reasons – and are not permitted to remove them outside of their home.
That would, in fact, make this woman “suitably dressed”.

Why are people still experiencing discrimination for what their beliefs require them to wear?

Since Rania El-Alloul has been interviewed, many leaders (including the Prime Ministers office) have spoken out against Judge Eliana Morengo’s decision. But she hasn’t been disciplined.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker and facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.

A Great Example of Inclusion

13 Jun

About a week ago I read part of an article in the newspaper (which I can no longer find, sadly) about a restaurant owner who had made the decision to serve Halal meat in his establishment.

He is not Muslim. But there are members of the Islamic community who live in the area of his restaurant, and he decided that serving Halal meat made sense because it would mean that his restaurant could be a choice for more people.


This is a great example of inclusion because his decision means exactly what he hoped: that more community members can enjoy his food. Without thinking. Without having to check. It makes his restaurant more accessible.

His business will likely profit from this choice.  But possibly even more important than that is the message that it sends – that all are welcome, that the needs of a variety of community members have been considered, that some of these needs have been taken into account.

Simple, right?

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copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.

The niqab and Canadian citizenship

14 Dec

I first heard Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on the radio on Monday night, talking about his decision that women wearing a niqab must show their faces during the citizenship ceremony in order. I couldn’t believe my ears when he used the fact that women are required to be unveiled when they participate in the Hajj. ‘Really Jason?’ I thought. ‘You’re comparing a religious pilgrimage to a citizenship ceremony?!’
I had to shake my head.

Surely there is some way to have women wearing a niqab verify their identity in private with a female before entering the room for the ceremony. Seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise to me. In fact, when I checked with a friend who is an Ontario Human Rights Commissioner, that is exactly what happens at airports.  So…?

When I read the article in the Toronto Star, I was stunned when I came across the following: “This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday as he announced the changes in Montreal.

I don’t know about you, but to me, “values of openness and equality” mean that we recognize difference, acknowledge people’s needs, and find ways to make it work. That’s what diversity and inclusion is all about. This  decision is the antithesis of openness and equality.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

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