(July 29, 2009) – “The Olive Tree Foundation has distinguished itself, in a quiet and unassuming way, for being one of the most important and forward thinking organisations established in Canada,” Dr. Kathy Bullock told the audience at the Annual Appreciation Brunch of the Olive Tree Foundation held on Sunday, July 26 in Markham.
Dr. Bullock is the Director of the recently formed policy institute and think tank, the Tessellate Institute (TTI), and she delivered the keynote address at the Appreciation event on TTI’s inaugural project, ‘Mosque One: Oral Histories of Toronto’s First Mosque’
“Since its founding in 2004, the Olive Tree Foundation has served our community with excellence. They have supported projects that address real needs in our community, of women and girls, of children and education, and of disabled Muslims,” she said.
Dr. Bullock, in her address, elaborated on the Tessellate Institute’s first project that will document Muslims’ narratives as part of the Canadian social fabric. The information will be promoted and made available through a multimedia website that will provide open access to this research.
The Olive Tree Foundation, earlier this year, provided a grant to the Tessellate Institute to fund the project.
“TTI’s oral history of the first mosque in Toronto, which was established nearly 50 years ago, provides a wealth of data to demonstrate that Muslims aimed to live their lives here as good citizens and good neighbours, to be people of faith, and to raise decent children, who in turn would become good neighbours, citizens and workers. It is no different today,” Dr. Bullock said.
She told the audience of the surprises that were uncovered during the research.
“As we crafted this research project, I have felt like an explorer discovering and charting unmapped lands,” she said.
“The discovery, of a Muslim Society in Toronto and a Masjid prior to Jami Masjid has been one of the most exciting things discovered, amongst other exciting things discovered of this project, like the fact that Malcolm X visited the Dundas St Mosque, or that the current oil minister of Iraq, Dr Shahristani, was the Sunday school teacher at Dundas Street Mosque – it felt as if we were being initiated into a secret society, and now, through this project, we are inviting the whole community into the secret.”
Earlier in the program, Muneeb Nasir, President of the Olive Tree Foundation, outlined the history and reasons that led to the establishment of the charity.
“A few years ago, a number of community activists met and proposed that the Canadian Muslim community really needed to revive an institution that was vital in supporting good works in the past, the system of Awqaf (or endowments),” he said.
“We felt that it was vital for the future of Canadian Muslims to establish such an endowment foundation that can once again lead community development.”
The Appreciation Brunch, which was attended by a number of community leaders, ended on an upbeat note when Pervez Nasim, the Chairman of the Islamic & Ansar Co-operative Housing Corporations, pledged to establish an endowment fund to support the elderly who require long-term care assistance but are unable to meet their needs.
Dr. Kathy Bullock commended the Olive Tree Foundation for “the vision to support less tangible projects; it is a testament to their wisdom and vision for the Canadian Muslim community, as it demonstrates a visionary ability to see beyond the bricks and mortar needs of our community.”