January 17, 2024 – On the evening of January 15, 2024, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) brought together over 300 staff, students, and community members to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the groundbreaking Affirming Muslim Student Identities and Dismantling Islamophobia Strategy. This initiative, the first of its kind in Canada, aims to foster inclusivity and combat Islamophobia in schools.

During the celebration, participants had the chance to reflect on the numerous activities, initiatives, and resources developed over the past year in alignment with the strategy. The event highlighted the progress made and emphasized the ongoing commitment of the board and schools to this essential work.

Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, and Wali Shah, Poet & Motivational Speaker, joined the celebration, adding their voices to the occasion. Student performances and workshops added to the festive atmosphere, creating an engaging and informative experience for attendees.

Wali Shah, Poet & Motivational Speaker

Looking ahead, the community heard about plans for continued progress, reinforcing the importance of sustained efforts in creating inclusive spaces for Muslim-identifying students, staff, and families.

The PDSB expressed gratitude to community partners, families, staff, and students who have dedicated their time and shared their experiences, contributing to the ongoing commitment to welcoming and inclusive environments.

The Affirming Muslim Student Identities and Dismantling Islamophobia Strategy, with its unique design inspired by Islamic geometric patterns, serves as a critical pillar in the board’s commitment to equity and inclusion. The strategy addresses various aspects, including historical roots of Islamophobia, defining Islamophobia, and implementing measures to disrupt and dismantle it within the educational system.

The celebration also recognized the collaborative efforts of the Affirming Muslim Student Identities and Dismantling Islamophobia Community Working Group, comprised of organizations such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Muslim Employees Association of Peel, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

The PDSB expressed deep appreciation for the contributions of the writing team, including Aasiyah Khan, Omar Zia, Shazia Sheikh, Rubina Siddiqui, Naushaad Suliman, Ahmed Ali, and former Trustee Nokha Dakroub. Superintendent of Education Donna Ford and Lara Chebaro were also acknowledged for their roles in advancing the strategy.

The Affirming Muslim Student Identities and Dismantling Islamophobia Strategy is rooted in guiding principles that recognize the systemic nature of Islamophobia, emphasize the importance of acknowledging social locations, and stress the ongoing commitment required to dismantle such biases.

As the PDSB marks this significant milestone, it reinforces its dedication to fostering positive, welcoming, and identity-affirming learning and working environments, setting an example for schools across the nation.

Read the full Affirming Muslim Identities and Dismantling Islamophobia Strategy here.