Fighting Islamophobia: Groups join forces to help Muslim children, Syrian refugees

While I see the need for this educator’s guide, disappointed that there is minimal language in the Guide (Helping Students Deal with Trauma – Eng) on the linkage to other forms of racism and discrimination and the need to promote an overall message of acceptance and inclusion, including among Canadian Muslim youth.

A missed opportunity:

Newly welcomed Syrian refugees and Muslim children are on the receiving end of Islamophobia in Canadian schools across the country, say the human rights groups that want to put and end to it.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), The Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), launched a new educator’s guide at a press conference on Parliament Hill Thursday morning, which is intended for teachers to help students deal with trauma related to Islamaphobia.

Currently, the guide is available for free online, and the groups hope that eventually a hard copy will make its way into elementary, high school and university classrooms across the country.

NCCM’s executive director, Ihsaan Gardee, said Canadian Muslims along with newly arrived refugee and immigrant youth are suffering in different ways.

“Whether it’s being afraid to speak about their Muslim identity or whether it’s the shame of being a refugee or dealing with post-war trauma many young people are hurting,” said Gardee.

Families have told NCCM that they hope and expect their childrens’ classrooms to be safe and teachers have told NCCM they need tools to provide support to Muslims in their classrooms. Many have said they feel let down.

“We have heard too many stories of Islamophobia in our schools. We’ve heard about school teachers making hurtful comments in the classroom or on social media about refugees and about Muslims and Islamic practices. We’ve heard about children being afraid to raise their voice to explain their beliefs to their peers,” Gardee continued.

Chief commissioner of the CHRC, Marie-Claude Landry, referencing the Liberal government’s generosity in accepting nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees, said that as the message from our country’s leaders continues to be positive and optimistic, “there is a natural tendency among many Canadians to take for granted that we live in a society guided by inclusion, respect and equality.”

“But the reality is that now more than ever, we must be extra careful not to take our Canadian values for granted,” said Landry.

Landry said this isn’t a Muslim issue – it’s a Canadian issue.

When a Muslim woman is verbally assaulted while shopping with her child, we are all diminished by it, she said.

And when an 8 year-old-child is accused of carrying a knife because of a head covering, we are all the lesser for it, she continued.

Landry believes this guide will help teachers create more inclusive spaces for Canadian Muslim students, and said that at the heart of the guide is the powerful idea that “all children deserve a classroom where they feel safe and understood.”

Source: Fighting Islamophobia: Groups join forces to help Muslim children, Syrian refugees

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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