Beyond Mogadishu: Shirin Ramzanali Fazel on Migration, Languages, and Reclaiming Her Voice

Interview by: Eliana Trinaistic, Social Impact Manager Shirin Ramzanali Fazel (1953) is an Italian writer of Somali and Pakistani origin, one of the pioneers of the movement known as Italian Migration Literature (letteratura italiana della migrazione), whose writings have been studied both in Italy and abroad. She was born in Mogadishu at the time of prosperity, tolerance and peaceful living amongst nations, including Somalis, Arabs, Sikhs and Chinese. In 1971, with her husband and young…

Aphasia Awareness: No Matter What Language You Speak, Language Matters

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, which is as good a time as any to share how much it shocks me that so few people know about Aphasia. Consider that 1 in 3 Canadians who survive a stroke have Aphasia. The disorder is not uncommon, and it’s certainly something that cannot be ignored, especially as rates are expected to increase with Canada’s silver tsunami (i.e. ageing population). My first exposure to Aphasia was in the first…

Decolonizing Memories: Takeaways from the Memories of Mogadishu Conference

By Eliana Trinaistic, Social Impact Manager The Memories of Mogadishu Conference (#MOM19), which took place at the Ottawa Art Gallery on May 4th, 2019, was curated by documentary filmmaker and second generation Somali-Canadian Asha Siad. The goal of the conference was to gather international speakers, most of them with strong ties to Somalia and Mogadishu, storytellers, historians, members of the library and archival community, as well as students of Somali origin to explore themes regarding the…

Getting Loud for Mental Health Week

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), mental health is ubiquitous. Just like physical health, we all ‘have’ it; some of us may have poorer mental health, due to the presence of some mental illness, but we are all impacted by it and able to feel mental health via our wellbeing. Extending this to mental illness and disorders, if you are to prescribe to a relatively newer way of thinking among psychologists and other…

Letter to Premier Doug Ford Regarding Cuts to LAO

Please find below, a letter to Premier Doug Ford, from MCIS Executive Director Latha Sukumar, written in response to the Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) funding cuts announced as part of the 2019 budget. April 10, 2019 Honourable Premier Doug Ford Government of Ontario doug.ford@pc.ola.org Honourable Premier Doug Ford Re: Proposed cuts to Legal Aid funding for Refugees and Immigrants I am writing to express my concerns about the proposed cuts to provincial legal aid funding…

A Personal Reflection on Women’s History Month

By Latha Sukumar, Executive Director When I was a young girl, my mother used to take us to the village where my uncle and his family lived. It was a village steeped in rituals and practices that I had never witnessed growing up in Mumbai. On one of these visits my mother moved outside of the house, into a little room by the well; it was a pretty shabby room, with just a small light…

Becoming Storytellers for the Day: Recapping #StoriesofUs

By Sanah Matadar, Social Media Coordinator In early March MCIS partnered with the Department of Imaginary Affairs (DIA) to host newcomer interpreters and translators for the Stories of Us workshop. The goal of the workshop was three-fold: 1) Empower newcomers by providing them with an open space to share their stories. Allowing them them to do so should help participants feel that, as Canadian citizens, they have a voice 2) Create resource books from the…

Non-Profit Innovators – We Need You!

By Eliana Trinaistic, Social Impact Manager “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” — George E. P. Box Over the past couple of years the Government of Canada has made some significant moves in terms of accelerating innovation in the social sector. First, in 2017 they appointed the Co-Creation Steering Group, to guide the development of a Canadian Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy. After a year of consultations, the Group presented its recommendations…

African American Spirituals and the Slavery Connection: When the Song is the Message and More

By Gregory Bourne, Sales Representative As with many black families whose parents migrated from the West Indies in the late sixties, my sister and I were raised in a Christian household. My mother started hauling us to church when I was six. Dressed in my Sunday best, I wore a pint-sized suit, impossibly shiny black shoes, and the most annoying clip-on-tie. I looked like a cute, black but very angry ventriloquist dummy. As I got…

Bangladesh’s Fight, the World’s Prize: The History of International Mother Language Day

By Sarah Haque, Board Administration and Communication Coordinator I have heard from more than one non-Bengali speaker that when they hear Bengali spoken it sounds sweet and melodious. I speak Bengali. It is my mother tongue. My language is my identity. But these feelings and my story would’ve been entirely different if Bengali student demonstrators, Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabbar and many others hadn’t sacrificed their lives and become language martyrs….