Like every young child, I asked a lot of questions. My curiosity was particularly piqued by relationships among people and groups. Further along in childhood and adolescence, when I learned more about discrimination on a personal level I questioned why prejudice existed. And as a practicing woman of faith, I wondered why there were barriers – and wars – between different religions. Some of the answers were found in history; there was usually an event or circumstance that ‘explained’ why things were the way they were…but on a soul level, I am still searching for that answer.

I think that’s because, as a soul, I know that prejudice, discrimination, and inequality shouldn’t exist. They are human constructs rooted in the way we choose to see the world. I guess that part of me wonders why it’s so difficult to take a step back, objectively look at a situation and see that there could be another side to it. I wonder why it’s so difficult to accept that another viewpoint, though different from our own, is just as valid.

I’ve had a lifetime of experience caught in the middle of various viewpoints. Growing up South Asian-Canadian meant I had the tricky task of interpreting one culture for the other, constantly explaining to someone (whether my parents or my peers) why I do the things I do, why I think the way I do, why I want the things I want. Though I resented this role of interpreter many times as an adolescent, I can now see that it gave me the cultural sensitivity that is the antidote to things like discrimination.

A year and a bit ago, I accidentally turned this passion into a path. I wrote an article for Huffington Post on a bit of a whim,  not expecting anyone to read it. Well, many people did: 23K people ‘liked’ it on Facebook and it gathered just over 700 comments. The comments were shocking and the hate that exuded from them made me wonder if I had not made a great mistake.

From that article, though, I ended up on CBC Radio and in a couple of churches, with the intention of building bridges amongst communities. The speaking engagements were beyond my expectations, and I was truly uplifted by the positive feedback I received from the congregations.

And I’m thrilled to be doing it again on a larger stage, this time at a women’s interfaith conference held on Saturday March 5, 2016 in Surrey B.C! This will be a space for women of faith to come together and bridge gaps, embrace their commonalities and contemplate on how we can move forward as people with a great impact on the next generation. My talk will include some basics on Islam with a heavy emphasis on celebrating what we have in common and using that to build a happier, healthier, safer future.

The details and tickets are available here – if there is chance you will be there, please let me know because I’d love to look out for you.

Whether this talk or this topic is something that interests you or not, I hope that this post made you think of your own passions. What is it you were always curious about as a child, an adolescent? How about now? Where can that curiosity lead you if you just let it? Perhaps on a path you never would have even dreamed of.

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative