(December 5, 2015) – Canada’s premier Waqf, the Olive Tree Foundation, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, November 22 with an Appreciation Dinner held at the The Estate Banquet and Event Centre in Scarborough.
“The Olive Tree Foundation gives us the opportunity to plant in the soil of this world, the seedling of an existence everlasting and beautiful,” Muneeb Nasir, President of Olive Tree Foundation, told the gathering. “This is what an everlasting charity is, this is what a Sadaqah Jaariyah is.”
The Olive Tree Foundation was founded a decade ago by civic leaders and philanthropists within the Canadian Muslim community.
The Foundation is a charitable organization formed to attract and manage permanent endowment funds and to distribute income from those funds back to the community.
The keynote speech at the Appreciation Dinner was delivered by Naheed Mustafa who spoke on the topic, “Youth Activism and Lessons from #BlackLivesMatter.”
Naheed Mustafa is an award-winning broadcaster and writer and a long time contributing producer at CBC Radio.
Her documentary work from both Canada and abroad has been heard on various programs on CBC Radio, Radio Netherlands, and the BBC.
Scholarship and Bursary Award
A highlight of the Appreciation Dinner was the announcement of the 2015 Scholarship and Bursary Awards.
The Foundation annually awards the Mohamed and Opheerah Nasir Leadership Scholarship of $1,000, as well as five bursaries of $500 each honoring Muslim youth achievement in Academic Excellence, Women’s Education, Youth Action, and Special Needs.
“These awards reflect the Olive Tree Foundation’s mission of recognizing and supporting community development, youth, women and individuals with disabilities,” said Anela Jadunandan, Chair the Olive Tree Foundation Scholarship and Bursaries Awards Committee. “The caliber of young Muslim high school students that we assessed was very impressive.”
The Mohamed & Opheerah Nasir Leadership Scholarship was awarded to Suhaima Tunio of Fletchers Meadow SS, Brampton, ON.
The OTF Academic Excellence Bursary was awarded to Maryam Najib of Eastwoord CI, Kitchener, ON; the OTF Women’s Educational Bursary was awarded to Samia Kamal of Princess Margaret Secondary, Surrey, BC; the OTF Youth Action Bursary was awarded to Saad Kurshid of Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary, AB; and the OTF Abdullah ibn Umm Makhtum Student Bursary was awarded to Iman Hersi of John McCrae Secondary School, Nepean, ON.
“Given the current situation that has recently thrown a dark shadow on Muslims, we want to encourage these youths to continue to be beacons of hope for the future of Muslims in Canada,” added Jadunandan. “We want them to be the future leaders of Canada and to be proud of living in a province like Ontario in a country like Canada.”
Faisal Ali Academic Excellence Scholarship Announced
The Olive Tree Foundation also announced the inauguration of a new scholarship – The Faisal Ali Academic Excellence Scholarship.
The scholarship will be awarded annually to a high school graduate who has excelled in their academic studies and will be entering a post-secondary institution.
“The Faisal Ali Academic Excellence Scholarship was set up as a field-of-interest endowment by the late Opheerah Nasir, grandmother of Faisal Ali,” Muhammed Haseeb Ali told the audience. “Tonight, we are presenting a donor recognition plaque to the family of the late Opheerah Nasir to honor her memory and generosity and the memory of her grandson, Faisal Ali.”
Ansar Healthcare Fund awarded
The Foundation presented the Ansar Healthcare grant to Yusuf’s Heart, a charitable drive to support the Hospital for Sick Kids Young Families Program in the Division of Adolescent Medicine.
“Yusuf’s Heart was founded in February of 2012,” said Naeem Siddiqi, Vice-President of Olive Tree Foundation. “ Yusuf Mustafa was a beautiful, bright 5-year- old-boy who, unexpectedly yet peacefully, passed away on December 30th, 2011.”
The Young Families Program is a health care service for adolescent parents (under 18) and their children. The Program monitors these babies and toddlers on an outpatient basis and provides parenting and life skills to the parents.
“Yusuf’s Heart charitable drive support children when they come to visit the Young Families Program,” explained Siddiqi. “The children are allowed to choose a toy or book purchased with donations collected through Yusuf’s Heart. Yusuf’s Heart is a positive initiative and brings joy to toddlers and to their parents.”
2015 Grants Announced
The appreciation dinner included the announcement of two grants awarded to Toronto-based charities.
The Foundation awarded a grant to Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre for the project, RPTV Identity: A youth-driven, community broadcast arts project.
The RPTV Identity Project is an innovative Broadcast Training Project that will use media technology as a tool to explore topics of social justice – e.g. identity, Islamophobia, media narratives and bias – filtered through a critical youth lens.
Another grant was received by the non-profit, METRAC for the Project: Faith to End Violence and Oppression Project.
METRAC will host a multi-faith community “think tank”, organized by their Respect in Action (ReAct) youth program team, for diverse Toronto youth to discuss the role of faith and spirituality in addressing experiences of interpersonal and systemic violence.