Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 104

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Ismaili Walk 2012

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Sunday, September 23, I had the privilege of walking alongside 1,500 British Columbians at the twenty-first annual Ismaili Walk. This year men, women and children from across Vancouver gathered at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park where they enjoyed live music, delicious food and a festive atmosphere while supporting an important cause that is very close to my heart.

Twenty per cent of homes in British Columbia are headed by single mothers, half of whom live in poverty. Having spent six years serving as national president of the YWCA, I have worked with many of these women and am very familiar with the exceedingly vulnerable positions in which they are routinely placed. Whether it is deciding between paying the rent or buying groceries, or choosing between staying in an abusive relationship or leaving and living life in poverty, single mothers are forced to make impossible decisions each day.

This year the Ismaili Council for British Columbia partnered with the YWCA Cause We Care House, which is an integrated housing community that is being built to support some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable families — single mothers bravely raising children in challenging economic conditions.

The YWCA Cause We Care House will provide safe and affordable housing to help women achieve economic independence by providing program space for much needed medical and employment services, Aboriginal infant development programs and literacy programs.

During this year’s walk, we heard from Ms. Janet Austin, the CEO of the YWCA of Vancouver. Ms. Austin spoke of the great work the YWCA continues to do on behalf of single mothers while also shedding light on the vision they share with the Ismaili Muslim community in British Columbia.

The president of the Ismaili Council for British Columbia, Ms. Samira Alibhai, described this vision by stating:

Islam places a great emphasis on the principle of people and institutions coming together to make positive change. This walk is part of our tradition of service, giving back and helping those in need, and helping improve the overall quality of life in the society in which we live by making a meaningful contribution to our local is community.

During the walk we also had the honour of hearing from M.P. Andrew Saxton who delivered a message on behalf of the Right Honourable Prime Minister Harper. In his message, the Prime Minister stated:

Today British Columbians will lace up their sneakers to raise awareness and funds for this great cause. I would like to commend the Ismaili Muslim community for organizing this event, which over the past 21 years has raised more than $3.8 million for community organizations in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.

Honourable senators, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Ismaili Muslim community, Ms. Alibhai, Ms. Austin and the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this year’s walk such a great success.

I also wish to congratulate all those who participated in the Ismaili Walk for Women for taking steps to help some of Canada’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations.