2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 123

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker

International Women’s Day

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, Shalom/ Salaam. This year a unique commemoration of International Women’s Day was held by Na’amat Canada Toronto, a Jewish women’s volunteer organization; the Canadian Council of Muslim Women; the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims; and the Women’s Intercultural Network. It was a most amazing day that I will never forget.

The theme was Shalom/Salaam — Together we will make it happen! Women of diverse backgrounds and of all ages came together at the Borochov Cultural Centre in North York in Toronto.

Na’amat is concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Canada and worldwide and decided to reach out to Muslim women for their annual celebration of International Women’s Day so that they could get to know one another and together help to reduce stereotypes about the other community.

Dr. Karen Mock was instrumental in bringing all the groups together with the help of Talat Muinuddin.

Gerry Anklewicz, President of Na’amat, stated:

We wanted to celebrate with Muslim women, as we fervently believe if women who oppose violence and hatred speak to each other and find common ground, then we can counter anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Fathima Hussain, President of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, stated:

Working on the planning committee together, I was so pleased that both our Muslim and Jewish women’s groups are committed to exactly the same thing — working towards equality, safety and security. We discovered we have more similarities than differences.

Karen Mock summed up the outstanding event as follows:

What a thrill it was to see Jewish and Muslim women engage in lively discussion, learning about each other’s customs, customs and concerns, in a safe place and in such a warm and inclusive environment. We are delighted the feedback has been so positive and that so many want to continue the dialogue, to take action together against discrimination, and to promote peace and harmony.

Honourable senators, in my remarks to the group, I stated:

We can start by strengthening our personal relationships, by partnering with each other’s organizations locally and then by also working internationally.

I gave examples of my work in Israel and Palestine, and I urged the women to come together to help bring about peace. I believe if we start to break down barriers in Canada, we will be able to work together for peace in Israel and Palestine.

The women of Israel and Palestine are also our sisters. If not in Canada, then where? If not us, then who? The time to start is now.

Honourable senators, Jewish people in Hebrew say shalom aleichem. Muslims in Arabic say alechim salaam.

May peace be upon us all for the sake of our grandchildren.