Dr. Habib Khoury is a Palestinian Canadian practicing dentistry at Centrum Dental Care in Kanata. In 2015, he came up with the idea of finding an innovative way to raise funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s Community Mental Health Program which supports Palestinians, particularly children, who are coping with mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He spearheaded the annual Ottawa Run for Palestine, now in its third year.
It takes place this Sunday, September 24. This year the run has a new route from Ottawa City Hall to Dows Lake. a 2K Family Walk and a 5K and 10K professional run. The run is followed by a Family BBQ with multiple activities for children, as well as cultural activities such as Dabke. Online registeration for the run ends on Thursday, September 21 at 11:59 pm. Register online here.
This year, the Ottawa Run for Palestine is also fundraising for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)'s youth mental health program.
Muslim Link connected with Dr. Khoury to learn more about why the run is partnering with CHEO this year.
How did the partnership with CHEO and the Ottawa Run for Palestine come about? Why is this partnership important in terms of the evolution of this event?
In the previous years, we raised funds exclusively for UNRWA. With the generous support of the community in Ottawa, we were able to raise over $75,000 over the previous 2 years.
This year is a special year for Canada and Ottawa because of Canada 150, so we decided to give back to the Ottawa community as a thank you for the generosity that they have shown to us already.
The Ottawa Run for Palestine raised funds for UNRWA's Community Mental Health Program to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian children living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We searched for a similar program in Ottawa and, after extensive research, decided that we would also support CHEO's youth mental health program.
It was important to partner up with CHEO because Canadian-Palestinians are part of Ottawa and are contributing positively, usually quietly, to the communal fabric of the city.
This partnership allows us to shine a light on the contributions being made by the Canadian-Palestinian community to the local community and also to raise awareness on the difficult conditions encountered by the residents of Gaza. The partnership reminds us of just how similar we are as human beings and the importance of mental health, especially in children suffering from traumatic incidents. We are equally Canadians and Palestinians. Our children in Ottawa will benefit from the mental health services offered through CHEO. The impact of mental illness on these children and youth is paramount.
CHEO's youth mental health program will benefit from a fundraising effort as it's still underfunded and serviced.
There is a great need for these services and the Ottawa Run for Palestine is proud to support the great work being done by the mental health professionals at both UNRWA and CHEO.
To learn more about the Ottawa Run for Palestine taking place this Saturday, September 24, click here
Next Monday, Pakistani Canadian Aatif Baskanderi will be starting a trip across Newfoundland sharing his personal story as a Muslim growing up in the province. Aatif will be travelling over 2000km across Newfoundland visit 7 towns over 11 days. Many of these communities have sponsored Syrian refugees. He will be speaking at high schools, libraries and the provincial university. He is currently crowdfunding on LaunchGood to cover the cost of making the documentary “Salaam B'y - A Story of a Muslim Newfoundlander”, based on this trip in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Amar Wala, best known for his work The Secret Trial 5 (2014).
In light of the current humanitarian crisis and violence being experienced by the Rohingya community in Myanmar/Burma and Bangladesh, Muslim Link is sharing the stories of Rohingya refugees who have made a home in Canada.
Yasmine Ullah is a Rohingya refugee living in Vancouver, BC. She is part of a Rohingya women-led initiative, spearheaded by her mother, who are crowfunding on LaunchGood to help support Rohingya community members who are staying in Burma amid the current violence.
Yasmine has been speaking publicly about the plight of the Rohingya, including the dire situation faced by her own family members currently in Burma, at local mosques and to mainstream media such as CBC.
Muslim Canadians are rallying across the country to support the Rohingya in Myanmar/Burma and Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh.
On September 13th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar. "The Prime Minister conveyed his deep concerns over the situation in Rakhine State for Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minorities. He stressed the particular importance of the State Counsellor as a moral and political leader. The Prime Minister also emphasised the urgent need for Myanmar's military and civilian leaders to take a strong stand in ending the violence, promoting the protection of civilians and promoting unimpeded access for the UN and international humanitarian actors. The Prime Minister and the State Counsellor discussed the need to defend and protect the rights of all minorities. The Prime Minister offered Canada’s support to help build a peaceful and stable society in Myanmar that is respectful of the rights of all ethnic minorities. The State Counsellor expressed appreciation for Canada’s contribution to humanitarian efforts."
Muslim Link caught up with Event Director Tariq Syed about MuslimFest's successes this year, and what we may look forward to in 2018, which will be Mississauga's Muslim arts and cultural festival's 15th year!
Tarbiyah Learning, the full-time Islamic school, is starting out the school year in brand new classrooms in Masjid Jami Omar, located in Ottawa's West end.
Muslim Link interviewed Tarbiyah's principal Ghazala Choudhury about the move and what parents and students can expect if they enroll in the school this year.