Partner Post: Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Around the Region shares the work of community partners. For July 2022, learn how the Coalition of Muslim Women is serving local racialized Muslim women.
Written by: Mehreen Shahid (she/her), Coalition of Muslim Women of K-W
A sense of belonging is crucial for newcomers to the area. Feeling part of the society and welcomed to a new home country eases transition for immigrants.
The Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) of KW fosters this sense of connectedness and identity among racialized Muslim women through its programs in the area. The non-profit was formed in 2010 by a group of passionate, mighty women who raised their voices against hate, racism, and gender-based violence faced by racialized Muslim women.
Building on lived experience, the CMW knows that racialized Muslim women and their families face several barriers when settling in a new country. Main obstacles include discrimination or Islamophobia.
The way forward is simple: we must all stand up to hate today for a better tomorrow.
Racialized immigrant families facing hate, racism or Islamophobia can access support through the CMW’s Hate or Discrimination Reporting and Support Service (www.reportinghate.ca). Launched last year under our Together Against Islamophobia (TAI) program, the hate reporting service has generated immense interest from Waterloo Region racialized Muslims and has garnered support from the region itself.
Newcomers facing hate or discrimination reach out online or via phone or WhatsApp. They can do this anonymously or by sharing their name. This service is also a way for anti-hate and anti-Islamophobia allies to show their support in a concrete way by reporting as witnesses.
We understand that the impact of hate goes beyond just the incident, so CMW provides various one-on-one support services to victims, such as accompanying them to case meetings, filing complaints, accessing culturally sensitive counselling and more.
We understand it’s important for racialized Muslim women to create their own narrative about their identities as Muslims and women in Canada. We offer that opportunity through our TAI programs Brave Circles and Tea and Tales with Muslim Women, which invite the community to interact with racialized Muslim women respectfully and listen to their stories.
Racialized Muslim women can also face the crisis of gender-based violence (GBV). It’s heightened and can be extremely isolating and debilitating in a new environment they’re not familiar with. Interacting with someone that is familiar with their culture and traditions instils comfort in women facing GBV. That’s why our Toward Violence Free Homes multilingual community support workers are accepted into newcomer communities to provide education and support services.
Racialized newcomers may also face barriers in the job market, even if they’re qualified, skilled, and have work experience in their countries of origin. We welcome these women to join our Women Building Women program, which offers sessions in career coaching and workshops to support entrepreneurial women build a bigger and better future.
And we didn’t forget racialized Muslim youth either! All racialized Muslim youth aged 14-25 are welcome to join the many activities held by our Youth Leaders 4 Change program to be their own voice of change. The group is currently looking at gaps in mental health care offered to racialized Muslim youth. We’re also signing on youth for the second Counterspeech Lab that begins in August.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 226-499-2269.