While the perils of social media have been lamented by many, there is no shortage of its positive use either. One such example was set on April 8 when volunteers from the Pakistani in Vancouver Facebook group organized a meet and greet event for newcomers in Vancouver. The purpose of the event, “Have Chai with Us””, was twofold; to provide an avenue for newcomers to socialize with the local Pakistani-Canadian community in British Columbia and to bring forward issues faced by them so they can be addressed where possible by the community at large.
The event was held at Strawberry Hills library in Surrey. After some mingling time, the formal program began with the recitation of the holy Quran and the introduction of the group’s mission by Dr. Zanbka Malik. Misbah Naseer, the MC of the event, then asked the volunteers to introduce themselves to the group. Women of various experiences including medicine, education, information technology, project management, engineering as well as two with experience with settlement agencies introduced themselves and offered their help in various areas. Misbah Naseer then led an icebreaker activity with Rahila Jibril which gave everyone a chance to learn more about each other. This was followed by a brainstorming and Q&A session led by Humaira Imtiaz with Yasera Saami in which the guests brought forward different issues including social activities, driver licensing process, immigration, sponsorship and citizenship processes. While some questions were fielded on the spot, the volunteers made a note of all issues and promised to get back to the group with complete information and guidance. The event ended with a Dua by Anjum Rafiq followed by tea and assortment of refreshments contributed by some of the
The Facebook group Pakistani in Vancouver was founded by Dr. Zanbka Malik 7 years with the intention to connect Pakistani community in Vancouver, bring harmony, share information and help each other. Dr. Malik has organized many initiatives with the volunteers from the community, and “Have Chai with Us” is just the beginning of a long term initiative to serve the newcomers in Vancouver.
By Rahma Khan
You’ve heard about Girl Guides of Canada and the Girl Scout Cookies, but have you heard about “The Muslim Girl Guides”? One of the mothers, Sister Nadia Hussain, graciously offered their home to start the much needed program for Muslim Girls of our Vancouver community. The project is spearheaded with the support of several mothers who wanted a practical experience of scouting for their girls. The first meeting of the Muslim Girl Guides group of BC took place on January 19th, 2017 in the Fraser Heights area. It started with a total of 20 young girls between the age of 6 years to 12 years old who came from different areas, as far as Chilliwack, Newton, and New West, reflecting their enthusiasm for the program. The program has started in the Guildford district, but with a growing waiting list and demand, it will eventually open another unit in Newton after summer In Shaa Allah.
History of Scouting: The Scout Association - founded in 1907 – disclosed in their recent statistics that one third of all scouts worldwide now are Muslims with an estimated 2,000 Muslim scouts in the UK. Similarly, the Girl Guides began in 1909, when girls in England demanded to take part in a Boy Scouts rally organized by Lord Baden-Powell at the Crystal Palace in London. Baden-Powell was impressed and he asked his sister, Agnes, to create a program just for girls. By 1910, the Guiding Movement had reached Canada and the first unit was formed in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. By 1912, there were units in every province, and many of Canada’s most forward-thinking women banded together to form the Canadian Girl Guides Association. Canada’s first Muslim Girl Guide troop, was formed in Ontario in 2013 included 13 Muslim girls, who were all newcomers to Canada from their home countries including Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian territories, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya.
Muslim Girl Guides of BC: As the name clearly emphasizes that our girls should integrate into society, have adventure, and fun while continuing to feel proud of their Muslim DNA. Therefore, each scouting activity has been modified and tailored to incorporate the Islamic aspect to it. Muslim Girl Guides is a good way for the girls of our community to have their values as Muslims, but also appreciate the Canadian outdoor experience. It gives a chance for girls to become more confident in their faith and religion, and it teaches them their rights and responsibilities as a Canadian citizen. Every month, the Muslim Girl Guides Group of Fraser Heights come together and act as family to one another. They help each other and support one another through encouragement. No matter what they do, new friendships are always made. The girls are encouraged to wear a hijab while being outdoor. Home color teams are made and the girls compete for points during games, activities, and Halaqa sessions. The volunteers who started the program are primarily Iqra Islamic School alumni who are currently in high school, but are thrilled to be part of this program to help put to practice their learning by engaging with the young girls at an early age and share their knowledge and love for their religion.
The high school youth volunteers play a major role in this program. Currently there are four main volunteers, each of them are assigned a group of 5 girls. These volunteers have their pre-selected color codes which are blue, green, red and pink. The volunteers help the teams win badges and points for doing good deeds, and also, help plan out the day, and make sure to incorporate fun and games into their routines. They welcome new members and help build a strong bond of friendships among girls who do not know each other. As a whole, the volunteers help in boosting up encouragement and confidence in the girls, and guide them when required.
While striving to be practicing muslimah role model for our little girls, the volunteers get the practical experience of time management, responsibility, conflict resolutions, problem solving and how to be a true guide for the girls who look up to them. The volunteer recruitment process is very easy. The program coordinator see a huge potential in all of the volunteers, and hopes that someday, they will be the leaders of the community for scouting programs. The Muslim Girl Guides have modified the Girl Guides Promise to match their Islamic teachings, and every member is required to know it by heart. The promise is as follows:
• I love & fear Allah(SWT)
• I obey the orders of Allah(SWT)
• I honor my Country, and will serve my Community
For the month of March as part of their first field trip activity to learn about country and political system, the Girl Guides visited the Surrey/Tynehead area MLA office of Mr. Amrik Virk. They learned about feeling proud and confident of their religion, and of being a Canadian citizen when Mr. Amrik Virk said, “There is no reason in this country why you can’t be practicing Muslims, why you can’t do what you do, why you can’t carry on your customs...”
Mr. Virk had been very kind and friendly to the girls, and the meeting was very beneficial to the group. He encouraged the girls to bring out their best, and the girls had a really good experience. He talked about his struggles in life as to being different when he immigrated to Canada as young kid with his family. While answering all of the questions he also told the girls, “ there is no job that a boy can do that a girl can’t do”, and just this one sentence brought a complete new energy among girls that made them really proud and encouraged.
The girls were really engaged in the stories he shared about his family, his daughters, his life as a policeman, and his police dogs especially. “ I had lots of fun serving Canada as a policeman” he stated. “We can count on these increasing, educated girls to be the guides and role models of BC! We wish them all the best.”
Future of Muslim Girl Guides: Muslim Girl Guides Program is still in the process for getting affiliation with the Girl Guides of Canada or Muslim Food Bank as an independent scouting program. It will be heavily focused on outdoor activities for girls like hiking, archery, swimming, horse riding, and several more which are weather dependent. This program is not a school, it is more like a training program which will teach discipline, practical implementation of our basic Islamic values and help girls learn to create special bond of friendship and sisterhood. The essence of this program will be that Muslim youngsters of Muslim Girl Guides shall build character and skills for success in life. Girls shall get opportunities to develop qualities such as strong Islamic values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth. They will learn to be loyal, honest, considerate, caring, unselfish, brave, cooperative, responsible, kind, courteous, and respectful Muslim leaders following the steps of our Great role-model, Sayyida Fatima AlZahraa.
Muslim Girl Guides unit can be started in each neighborhood with minimum 12 and maximum 20 members in each group. For more information on joining Muslim Girl Guides of BC as a volunteer or a member, contact us at MuslimGirlGuides.BC@gmail.com.