About the Author: Jennifer McCabe is a Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.
Canada, like the United States, is a melting pot of immigrants, and builds on the shared immigrant experience in a number of ways. U.S. Embassy Ottawa and our Consulates throughout Canada continually seek opportunities to encourage dialogue among faiths in order to build relationships and promote understanding and, in doing so, to diminish the risk of extremism and ultimately strengthen both the United States and Canada. From coast-to-coast-to-coast (as Canadians like to say), our U.S. Mission in Canada is engaged in a variety of outreach activities in recognition of Ramadan.
During this year's Ramadan season, the U.S. Mission in Canada will host two members of the "Hijabi Monologues," Maytha Alhassen and Kamilah Pickett. They will travel to Ottawa and Halifax, September 26-October 2, 2010. These two young women are engaging and enthusiastic spokespersons interested in promoting a greater understanding of Islam by discussing the complex symbolism of the hijab. (For more information on their efforts, check out this Los Angeles Timesarticle).
Maytha and Kamilah emphasize the power of storytelling in their performance and engagement. In describing their project, they say “it is about creating a space for American Muslim women to share their voices; a space to breathe as they are; a space that does not claim to tell every story and speak for every voice. Through the power of storytelling, generalizations and categories are challenged. Through stories, strangers touch and connect. Through stories, the story-teller and listener are humanized.”
The U.S. Mission to Canada engages at the highest levels with the Canadian Muslim population around the country. Ambassador Jacobson recently traveled to mid-west Canada and met with the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute in Winnipeg. This coming September, Ambassador and Mrs. Jacobson will attend the EID dinner organized by the Association of Progressive Muslims.
Representatives of our various consulates throughout Canada also keep in close contact with local Muslim groups in their cities. For example, Calgary Consul General Laura Lochman attended a pre-Ramadan celebration of Islam also attended by the Muslim Council of Calgary and 70 representatives of Calgary's Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities, as well as by local NGOs and Alberta's Human Rights Commissioner. During the event, senior Calgary Imam Jamal Hammoud and Nagah Hage, Chair of the Muslim Council of Calgary, presented the Consul General with a plaque in appreciation of the U.S. Consulate's ongoing support for cooperative, interfaith dialogue and its vision of peace for all.
Representatives of the U.S. Mission to Canada take great pride in the deep connections we have made with Canadian Muslims throughout this vast country. Ramadan offers us a fantastic opportunity to strengthen these cultural bridges.
Related Content: Secretary Clinton delivers a Ramadan message.