Endowment Foundation showcases achievements at elegant Gala event

Muhammed Haseeb Ali, Muneeb Nasir, Muhammad Lila and Imran Yousuf

(June 29, 2011) – “An insightful, honest, and enlightening address….overall, a brilliant example of a captivating storyteller.”

These were some reactions to Muhammad Lila’s keynote address at the elegant Annual Gala Dinner of the Olive Tree Foundation held last Saturday evening at the Novotel Hotel in North York.

Lila, the well-known CBC broadcast journalist, urged the audience to question the way the educational system compartmentalizes our learning and treats it like a light switch

The Olive Tree Foundation is an emerging, volunteer-run public foundation that promotes community development through the collection of endowed funds and charitable contributions to fund services for the long-term benefit of the community.

The Foundation showcased projects it has funded in the past year at the event, including the Muslim Scholarship and Bursary awards which was co-sponsored by MENTORS.

Lila’s background as a reporter, anchor, photojournalist, and editor, all rolled into one, came across during his speech. He weaved his personal experiences throughout his presentation.

He noted that the transmission of knowledge is diminishing from its traditional form, where students went to teachers and studied texts for a long time, into, what he referred to as, the “commodification of knowledge” and the “monetization of knowledge.”

Youth were centre stage throughout the evening’s program.

The inaugural Mohamed and Opheera Nasir Leadership Scholarship, was presented to Shagufta Panchbhaya of Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute.

Shagufta received the award for her exceptional leadership qualities and academic performance.

She will be entering McMaster University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science.

Four bursaries were also awarded

The recipient of the 2011 Academic Excellence Bursary was Usama Saeed of Dunbarton High School in Pickering.

Usama is an exceptional student who will be pursuing studies in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto where he has been recommended for a scholarship for his academic achievements.

The recipient of the 2011 Women’s Educational Bursary was Hodon Mohamed of the Madinatul Uloom Academy.

Hodon is an optimist who believes that everyone can achieve their dream and her dream is to work with Doctors Without Borders as a paediatrician.

Hodon Mohamed will begin her journey towards being a paediatrician when she enters the Life Sciences program at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus.

The recipient of the 2011 Youth Action Bursary was Muneerah Jafry of the Islamic Foundation School.

Muneerah Jafry has consistently demonstrated her desire to give back to the community and to make a positive impact on society through her volunteering activities.

She will be pursuing a major in English with minors in Sociology and French at York University on a scholarship.

The recipient of the 2011 Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum Student Bursary is Maryam Azhar of the Ernest C. Drury Secondary School for the Deaf.

Maryam Azhar has exceptional abilities which have been recognized throughout her high school years.

She is artistic and creative and her goal is to become an illustrator of teenage and children’s books. She says that her desire is to get Bachelor of Applied Arts in Illustration.

This bursary will enable Maryam to pursue her learning goals and link her more closely to the hearing Muslim community with whom she currently feels disconnected.

The Olive Tree Foundation also recognized two donors who have been leaders in the development of the Canadian Muslim community and strong supporters of Olive Tree Foundation.

They were both presented with citations honouring their endowment contributions to the Foundation.

The ANSAR Financial Group has endowed a donor advised fund – The ANSAR Healthcare Fund.

The late Mohamed Nasir and Opheerah Nasir have endowed a field-of-interest scholarship – the Mohamed And Opheerah Nasir Leadership Scholarship Endowment.

Earlier in the evening, Dr Paul Nesbitt-Larking, Professor of Political Science,  Huron College, University of Western Ontario, released the Tessellate Institute’s study “Canadian Muslim Youth: Concepts of Political Participation..”

The report finds that Canadian Muslim youth fit the same broad patterns of political participation as other Canadian youth – mostly not involved in formal politics, but highly engaged in informal politics, or civic engagement and volunteerism.

The Olive Tree Foundation-supported project, that was conducted in the context of growing governmental and community concern over the ‘radicalization’ of Canadian Muslim youth, gathered data on how Muslim youth regard political participation.

“The interviews revealed that in spite of a media narrative that focuses on Muslim youth as alienated from Canada, to the contrary, our interviewees feel a deep and positive attachment toward Canada and are willing and interested in engaging in the political community,” said Nesbitt-Larking.

During the Gala, another project funded by the Olive Tree Foundation, “Neglected Voices: Young and Muslim in Canada“, was premiered.

The point-of-view short film, produced for the Tessellate Institute by Jawad Jafry, profiles Muslim youths who have been victims of Islamophobia,  racial profiling, or living in poverty or have recently arrived in Canada and are finding it difficult to adjust to their new homeland.

[Photo credit: Umar Nasir]


Gala Evening


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