Scarborough teen takes on Islamophobia, among other things


At 16 years old, Alisha Aslam already has years of experience pushing for positive change in the world around her.

So after a man in London, Ont., drove his pickup into a Muslim family last month in what police have called a premeditated and targeted attack, killing four of them and orphaning a young boy, she quickly created a resource to educate other students about Islamophobia and to encourage them to raise the voices against it.

“Don't feel afraid to get involved,” she said. “Youth are the make-or-break of society. We can transfer knowledge and teachings to the next generation, or we can break it, break stereotypes.”

Aslam, who is going into Grade 11 at Agincourt Collegiate Institute in Scarborough this September, said Islamophobia seems to be increasing, noting in particular policies such as Quebec’s ban on public sector workers wearing hijabs, and said she and her friends have seen a lot of discrimination firsthand.

“It's a really critical age, so make sure to watch your actions and call it out when you see it because a lot of times, we unintentionally pass it on when we don't call something out, and we allow it to happen,” she said.

In the last five years, more Muslims have been killed in targeted attacks in Canada than any other G7 country, the National Council of Canadian Muslims noted earlier this week as the advocacy group unveiled 61 policy recommendations ahead of a virtual summit this Thursday created in the wake of the London attack.