“Let me begin with a story. A story from your history. One that I hope will stay in your minds as you think about our common future.”
These are words taken from a speech recently delivered by Justin Trudeau, a well-known Canadian politician, to the thousands of Muslims in attendance at the most recent Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention. I was not in attendance at the conference, but after reading Trudeau’s speech, which he published on the Huffington Post, I was enraged by his audacity in simplifying the experiences of marginalized people in Canada, erasing histories of colonization and dispossession, and spreading a classist and colonial message to the Muslim community, as a means of placating any thoughts of resistance.
Here on MMW, we have written about RIS in the past, mainly focusing on the presence (or lack thereof) of female speakers and perspectives (see our three posts from RIS 2011, 2009 in two parts, and 2008). At a glance—since I did not attend the conference—it seemed that there was some progress, in that this year there were five women who were on the speaking list (sad that such a low number is considered to be an “improvement”) who also spoke about issues that went beyond topics of “women” and the “family.”
As important as it is to write about the ways that we, as Muslim women, are pigeonholed or are restricted from full participation, I believe there are other matters that need to be called to attention. So, as a Muslim woman, I have decided to provide a critical lens on Trudeau’s speech to highlight the interconnectivity of communities that fall outside the white-Christianized-middle-class mythical foundations of the colonial Canadian project.