When a stranger makes us feel alien in the country we have come to love, certain anxieties may arise over whether or not we are truly welcome in the land we now call home.
The story of Kaniz Fatima is one of many cases of documented racism in which certain individuals, misguided or not, take it upon themselves to prey upon and discriminate against their fellow man, vocalizing said ignorance in the form of racial outbursts that hold no place in the Canada of today.
A Canada that preaches acceptance, compassion, and unity, irrespective of creed, religion, or one’s outward appearance.
While visiting with relatives outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba in August of 2017, Kaniz, and her family became the victims of a racist outburst when they merely asked a stranger for directions, near the Seven Sisters Dam.
The onslaught of derogatory statements included “take your head towel off in this country,” to which Kaniz replied “I can dress however I want. I live here; I pay taxes, [and] I have a job [as a teacher].”
Unfortunately, in the video that has since gone viral, the individual, later identified as Nick Wadien, can be seen projecting said obscurities towards Kaniz, which he defended over the phone, stating “No, I am not [a Nazi]. I got mad. The turbaners wouldn’t leave me alone, so I got mad. I didn’t want to talk to them.
On Wednesday, August 29th, 2018, I had both the privilege and the honour of attending Kaniz Fatima’s 1st annual BBQ, which sought to bring people together, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.
Given over a 100 men, women and children from all walks of life were present at the homey BBQ, to enjoy the good food and each other’s company; I would say the event was a smashing success. No doubt about it.
“[Nick] is not Canada to me. You guys are Canada to me,” she stated in her opening speech. “[To see] that we can come together and show our love, strength and unity [is a sight to behold]. [Those] are Canadian values.”
As a son of first-generation immigrants, I could not be more proud of the resiliency shown by Kaniz, who stood her ground in the face hate and did not allow the events of one year prior to define her or her family, who, in my eyes, are Canadians through and through.