Canadian Council of Muslim Women inaugural recipient of Peter Gillespie Social Justice Award

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Members of CCMW pose with members of Peter Gillespie's family at the presentation of the 1st Peter Gillespie Social Justice Award. L-R: Farhat Rehman, Alia Hogben, Fauzya Talib, Lexxus Gillespie, Letso Gillespie, Lulama Tobo-Gillespie, Kagiso Gillespie.
 Members of CCMW pose with members of Peter Gillespie's family at the presentation of the 1st Peter Gillespie Social Justice Award. L-R: Farhat Rehman, Alia Hogben, Fauzya Talib, Lexxus Gillespie, Letso Gillespie, Lulama Tobo-Gillespie, Kagiso Gillespie.Credit: Guillaume Charbonneau

Launched by the Canadian social justice organization Inter Pares, the Peter Gillespie Social Justice Award honours the social justice legacy of Peter Gillespie, a human rights activist who dedicated his life to advancing social justice in Canada and internationally. This year, Inter Pares is honored to give the award to the Canadian Council of Muslim Women for their courageous work in advancing women’s rights in a climate of increasing hate and fear mongering against Muslims.

Founded in 1982, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) is a leading progressive voice for Muslim women in Canada. CCMW works diligently to promote and encourage understanding and interfaith dialogue between Muslims and other faith communities.

In this inaugural year for the award, Inter Pares chose to honour a Canadian organization whose work has had a positive and innovative impact on women’s rights.

“The work of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women embodies the values this award seeks to honour. In the face of increasing and sometimes tragically violent discrimination against Muslims in Canada, they have continued to raise their voices for the universality of human rights, and against restrictions or discrimination based on religion, gender or race,” said Jack Hui Litster, Community Engagement Manager at Inter Pares.

Alia Hogben, CCMW Executive Director, in her acceptance speech, noted: 

Our organization’s values of compassion and social justice are based on Quranic principles and on the Declaration of Universal Human Rights. The exhortation of “do unto others as you would have them do to you” sounds simple but as we all know, demands a great deal of selflessness and compassion to practice.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Our human compassion binds us one to another – not in pity or patronizing, - but as humans who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” 

CCMW was founded 35 years ago, and its values and objectives continue to guide us today. We try to assist women and girls to integrate so that they can participate fully in all aspects of living. We do this through education of women and through advocacy on their behalf. We believe in the family as the context for us and so some of our projects have been with youth. We proudly proclaim that we are Canadians and we are Muslim and that this must be foundational to all our work with women and their families.

The award was presented at 7pm on April 24th, at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, located at 299 Montreal Road, Vanier, Ottawa.

Following the award, attendees enjoyed the Ottawa premiere of the documentary play Seven. The play intertwines seven true stories told by women’s rights activists from Russia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Northern Ireland.

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