Neglected Voices:Young and Muslim in Canada

(April 2, 2011) – The Olive Tree Foundation announced today that it will provide a grant to support the Tessellate Institute and MENTORS in developing a series of short films that profile the experiences of Muslim youth who are at risk of being marginalized.

The “Neglected Voices: Young and Muslim in Canada” project will profile the experiences of Muslim youths who may have been victims of Islamophobia or racial profiling; or living below the poverty line or have recently arrived in Canada and are finding it difficult to adjust to their new homeland.

“We are delighted at the Olive Tree Foundation’s continued support for our work,” said Dr. Katherine Bullock, Director of the Tessellate Institute (TTI). “Muslim youth are at the forefront of international public debate, analysis and scrutiny. What is often missing from these discourses are the voices of young Muslims themselves.”

The project, which is co-sponsored by the MENTORS, will be used to foster greater understanding about issues pertaining to Muslim youth in Canada as part of the organizations’ ongoing advocacy and research directed at policy makers and public sector institutions.

“The ‘Neglected Voices’ project builds on the Tessellate Institute’s and MENTORS’ current research into Muslim youth, while taking such work to a wider audience through the medium of a documentary,” Bullock said.  “It is incredibly important that not only policy makers, but the general public as well, hear and listen to such voices, so that policy is based on real experiences, not (generally negative) stereotypes.”

“The Olive Tree Foundation is very pleased to be able fund this important project of the Tessellate Institute and MENTORS,” said Muneeb Nasir, President of the Foundation, in announcing the grant. “Recent events in Canada have created a negative image of Muslim youth and this project will allow Canadians to hear the voices of young Canadian Muslims.”

The Tessellate Institute (TTI) was incorporated as a federal not-for-profit corporation in 2007 to provide Canadian policymakers and the general public academically-rigorous research about policy relevant issues, particularly on topics pertaining to ethnic and religious minorities. MENTORS (Muslim Educational Network, Training and Outreach Service) is a charitable organization that provides professional support to Muslim schools, teachers and students and seeks accommodation for Muslim students within the public school system.

The Olive Tree Foundation is a philanthropic 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.