People are shocked when they hear about the bullying that happened to me when I first moved to Canada.
I was born in Pakistan and lived in Saudi Arabia until my family moved here. When my family first came to Canada in 2001, I couldn’t speak a word of English.
My first encounter with racism was when students on the playground were calling me a ‘terrorist.’ Not knowing what that meant, I thought that was how we made friends in this new country. The country that my parents moved to for a better life.
So, I went along with it. Until the day when I was thrown headfirst into a brick wall. Until the day that my nose got broken. Until my school had to call my mom on her birthday to come and pick me up because I was bleeding, crying, and hurt.
The principal at my school then proceeded to tell me that I had to adjust to life and customs in Canada faster, so I wouldn’t offend the people who I had offended by being unable to speak English, and wanting to be friends.
Fast forward 16 years; I’m majoring in English and I have some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever met as my best friends. Fast forward 16 years, to the shooting in a Mosque in Quebec during prayer hours.
I’m not bitter, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed because 16 years later, we’re still here. People are dead, in critical condition, and in custody.
I find myself asking why, over and over again these days. Why was this the only answer these people could find? Why has their hatred become a way of life? Why is this a real problem in this day and age?
Currently the countries listed on U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban do not affect me personally but it is unclear for how long that will be the case.
Being a Canadian citizen born elsewhere, this is not something which I ever expected to be wary of. For the people who are affected presently, I am sorry that this is real life.
For those suffering because of the shooting, or because of the travel bans, or those triggered by events happening all over the world right now: stay strong. Please, stay strong. There’s nothing wrong with you, your beliefs, your religion, or your views.
What is wrong is the hatred you are experiencing first-hand. You are welcome here, at Waterloo, in Canada, and on this planet. It may not seem like it right now but Islamophobia will NOT win.
5B, Honours English Literature