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As a Muslim and a teacher, I hope to be part of the change needed to overcome racism and hatred

June 18, 2021

This First Person piece is by Aysha Yaqoob, a first-generation immigrant and a teacher in Regina.

I was in kindergarten when I discovered that I was brown. I had always known about — and been proud of — my culture, but it took a white peer to take one look at me and utter “dirty skin” for me to understand the realities of living in Canada as a racialized person.

Even then, I didn’t completely understand the gravity of what was to come, despite my parents sitting me down for “the talk” — the one about racism.

My family immigrated to Canada when I was three-years-old. My parents, both well-settled in their careers and surrounded by loving family members, decided to start fresh in a new continent so their children would be able to access better education and opportunities.

While promises of “multiculturalism” and “inclusion” were sprinkled around them, they realized quickly these narratives were lies. Within days of arriving in their new country, my parents had to deal with their first bout of racism. It was followed by decades of torment: racial slurs, being “randomly” selected, thousands of “go back to your country” statements and even denial of services because my parents weren’t speaking English “correctly.”

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