Women Who Inspires 2017 Awards

Faduma Mohamed

Faduma Mohamed is the Executive Director at Labour Community Services (LCS) in Toronto, Ontario. LCS is a project of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council in partnership with United Way Toronto & York Region. Faduma works long hours fundraising for those who are poverty-stricken. She unites the labour movement with the community to raise funds for the United Way of Canada. The work she does, jointly with labour and community groups, causes the community to be well situated in recognizing the impact of poverty on the city and its residents.

Faduma works with marginalized communities to ensure that their voice is heard. She provides space, forums and funding for community groups to meet and share ideas, bond and build a better infrastructure for themselves and others. Faduma is a mentor to many youth in the workforce. They look up to her for guidance, strength and insight into issues in the workforce. Faduma has championed many causes, being a stakeholder in campaigns such as the “$15.00 minimum wage campaign” and “Saying no to anti-semtism, saying no to islamophobia, saying no to racism”.

Faduma has raised millions as a board member of Human Concern International. She has united the Somali community to help Canadians domestically and to help the people of Somalia, internationally, especially during the East Africa famine crisis.


Zatoon Vania

Zatoon Vania has been a champion for fairness since her younger days in South Africa. She believes strongly in civic engagement as a mode of political activism. She has been engaged with many organizations during her professional work as an educator and as a Muslim woman volunteering with and supporting Muslim organizations like the Noor Cultural Centre, Rehma Community Services, CCMW, South African Canada Association, Talim Ul Islam, Muslim Education Network and the Teachers Education Institute. Through these organizations, she has been put in contact with a broad diversity of people within Muslim communities.

Zatoon has been a model of Muslim women’s agency and power. As an educator, she taught English in school in South Africa. After arriving to Canada in 1967, she worked in various school boards and universities in developing and teaching courses in Special Education, Gifted Education, Math and English.

She has volunteered her time, talent and expertise to so many deserving groups and people. Any team that she is a part of, instantly receives a shot in the arm from her energy and wise input.


Falahat Sheikh

On the first Saturday of every month, Falahat Sheikh of the CCMW Waterloo Wellington Chapter, volunteers with the Muslim Society of Guelph to assist with Syrian Refugee sponsorship and settlement. She is the Director of Food and Household Items with Jim Estill’s Syrian Refugee Project. She hands out meals to the refugees at the Danby warehouse in Guelph. She also works with a Syrian woman who has taught a group of volunteer cooks how to prepare traditional Syrian food. Falahat and her team also give each family a 56-litre food hamper full of staples like pasta, Middle Eastern spices and canned goods. She has helped the newcomers and sponsorship groups to set up a mentorship and translator program to assist the new arrivals.

Falahat also founded the Muslim Senior Circle in the Waterloo Wellington area and now serves as its Director. In addition, she is the current President of the CCMW Waterloo Wellington Chapter.

Previously, she served as the President of the Waterloo-Wellington Pakistan-Canada Association. Back in the early 1970’s, she was the President of the Women’s Association, Islamic Centre of Quebec, which was the first mosque in Quebec.

Falahat is a retired Intensive Care Unit Nurse. Her job responsibilities included helping to save lives. In her retirement, she helps make a better life for those she touches. Falahat is an example of boundless energy and a positive attitude.


Fehmida Khan

Fehmida Khan has been involved for many years in the movement to defend the rights of women and their families. She has had a key role in ensuring that women do not become complacent about their hard-won victories. She has fought to ensure that minority women’s voices are heard in Montreal, Quebec and Canada.

Fehmida arrived in Canada with her young family in 1968. She took French lessons to improve her communication skills in her new home and encouraged her peers to do the same. She was always cognizant of the need to understand and respect the diversity of religious perspectives and cultural differences in society.

She was among the founding members of the SAWCC (South Asian Women’s Community Center) and helped to inform its mission and goal of empowering women. She has been very active in working to empower immigrant women and to encourage community outreach and connections. Her involvement with CCMW began after volunteering with a telephone help line and with women and families at the mosque.

Fehmida has promoted the values of cultural identity and belonging in Quebec and Canada. She has acted as a liaison with the local community and social services, law enforcement, and provincial and federal services.

Mrs. Khan’s various entrepreneurial experiences include working with an airline and operating restaurants. She used her professional, business skills and her commitment to community to step into a role as a community leader and now, as an experienced elder.


Hana Shafi

Hana Shafi’s artwork has inspired a new generation of Muslim women to speak up about the issues that matter to them and to insist on safety and belonging in Canada.

Hana is the creator of the Affirmation Art series online, under the artist name “The Firzz Kid”. The series has gained enormous popularity and has been featured on Mashable, Huffington Post Canada, Huffington Post Women, Buzzfeed India and many other smaller indie publications. The themes of Hana’s Affirmation Art series regularly promote visibility of Muslim women in a positive way. Hana’s artwork has added a fearless new perspective to the issue of sexual violence and the urgent importance of supporting survivors. She has created artwork depicting the diverse Muslim experiences, including Somali, Afghan, Pakistani and Syrian Muslim communities. Her artwork pays careful attention to representation and the need to challenge anti-Black racism.

Hana recently completed an art residency at Ryerson University. She held arts workshops and created artwork for the Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education. In addition, she recently designed a series of educational materials for immigrant and refugee communities on the topic of domestic violence for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

Hana Shafi’s Affirmation Art series is a labour of love; she does it all for free.


Lila Shibley

Lila Shibley is the first Muslim female police officer in the history of the Ottawa Police Service and still remains the only sworn female Muslim member. She has spent most of her career working as a front line patrol officer. In her work, she responds to calls for service, assisting Muslims in Ottawa and promoting Muslim women’s image and identity in the Canadian context by breaking and challenging stereotypes.

Lila was instrumental in the integration of Syrian refugees to Ottawa. She speaks Arabic fluently.

Currently, she is in the Diversity and Race Relations Section of the Ottawa Police Service. Her constant efforts in outreach and communication, particularly with the city’s racialized communities, augment the quality of life for residents city-wide. The work Lila does helps to create partnerships and build relationships that enhance community safety and develop trust.

Prior to joining policing, Lila grew up in Edmonton and competed in weightlifting on a national stage.

Lila is married and the proud mother to her children Omar and Mariam.


Nigar Islam

Dr. Nigar Fatima Islam is a trained medical doctor from Pakistan. She arrived in 1982 and since then, she has been engaged in social support work for the needy and outreach to the Canadian community at large.
She has organized charity bazaars to help women and children impacted by the war in Iraq and people who have been displaced due to massive floods in Pakistan. She also helped after the earthquakes in Kashmir and Gujarat, India. She raised money to purchase medicine and diagnostic equipment for a charity hospital in Lahore, Pakistan.

Dr. Islam assisted with refugee sponsorship and resettlement of Kosovo families in Ottawa. In addition, she helped initiate fundraising for a Syrian refugee family through the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization. The family is expected to arrive some time in 2017 to Canada.

She has been the Treasurer of the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization since 2005. In her role, she has helped the OMWO and its outreach program with various Ottawa hospitals. She also contributed to the management of scholarship funds and bursaries at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin College. She has helped in the donation of sewing machines to a centre for Somali women.

Dr. Islam’s outstanding and dedicated work in the community has been acknowledged with several awards from the Province of Ontario and Human Concern International.


Tahmena Bokhari

Tahmena Bokhari is a publicly known, passionate advocate for the advancement of the status of women and creating gender-equity. She is a Canadian-born Muslim of Pakistani heritage who speaks several languages and has worked around the world in over 10 countries in humanitarian, social justice, equity and human rights initiatives. She has spent her entire career as a Social Worker working at women’s shelters and centers, writing articles, speaking at deputations and organizing events and marches. She has fought for gender equity within the Muslim communities and for women in the broader diverse communities of Canada.

Ms. Bokhari has done all the above while maintaining a demanding and stressful career in Diversity, Equity, and Human Rights in the Greater Toronto Area. She was the first ever Diversity Coordinator for the Town of Markham and over the last several years was the first person in the newly created role in child welfare to lead the change process to address the over-representation of black, Indigenous, South Asian and other racialized kids in care of Children’s Aid, making her 1 of only 7 people currently in the Province of Ontario to be in such a role.

She is the recipient of several leadership awards from the University of Toronto. Ms. Bokhari continues to inspire, coach and counsel women and remains a tireless advocate for women globally.