After mosque shooting, Halifax student urges teachers to discuss racism in class
Published Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:13PM EST
After the mosque shooting in Quebec City 10 days ago, 17-year-old Weam Ibrahim was left feeling scared and bewildered.
“I was very confused. Why would something like this happen so close to home?” the Halifax Grade 12 student told CTV Atlantic.
Ibrahim moved to Canada with her family when she was 8 years old and said that, because she’s Muslim and a visible minority, she’s been targeted by racism in the community. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting, the teenager wrote a letter to every teacher in her Halifax high school asking them to take five minutes out of class to have an open discussion with students about racism.
She hopes that by confronting prejudice with open communication, staff at Halifax West High School can help dispel bigotry.
“Talking about it will ultimately be the way we get rid of it,” Ibrahim said.
In the letter, Ibrahim shares her personal experiences with racism and Islamophobia.
“As a student who is Libyan, Arab, Muslim, and a visible minority, I am the target of racism everywhere I go,” she wrote.
“Students may feel that teachers are looking past the problem because it is easier to ignore it than deal with it. This should never be the case.”
Her message has already made an impact. Since the letter was sent out, some teachers have already taken a few moments at the start of class to have the conversation with their students.
Ibrahim’s mother says she’s proud that her daughter spoke her opinion “clear and loud” and added that the school’s response has reminded her why she loves living in Canada.
“This makes me feel like this is a great decision for me to stay here and raise my children here,” said Ibrahim’s mother, Antisar Ashareef.
As for Ibrahim’s future, the precocious student has already been accepted to Dalhousie University, where she intends to study science and possibly international development. She plans to go to medical school one day and hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders.
Ibrahim stressed that by confronting racism at an early age, students will grow up with a greater sense of tolerance.
“Once we create students today that are very aware and very respectful of their peers, we’re creating tomorrow’s coworkers who will respect their coworkers and who will be aware of what they’re going through in their day to day life,” she said.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell