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Illuminating Islamic Heritage: Celebrating Canadian Islamic Art and History Month in Winnipeg

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Winnipeg embarked on a cultural journey in late October that holds special significance for the Winnipeg Muslim community. The 3rd Annual Islamic Art Gala, held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, organized by Healthy Muslim Families in collaboration with WAG-Qaumajuq, is a unique venue for cultural expression and community engagement.

Humaira Jaleel, executive director for Healthy Muslim Families, explained that October is Islamic History Month, so an event celebrating and showcasing Islamic culture to a broader community is vital, especially one that opens the door to young and budding artists. 

“Due to a lack of organizations or places where Muslim artists can highlight their work, we, as a community of healthy Muslim families, wanted to provide an opportunity for Islamic artists to showcase their work. Additionally, we aim to mentor Muslim artists, as there is a scarcity of such opportunities, especially here in Winnipeg.”

While there may be more opportunities in places like Vancouver and Toronto, Winnipeg still has a long way to go. This event serves as our way of promoting art, raising awareness, and fostering an exchange of cultures. This gala represents more than an art exhibition for the Muslim community in Winnipeg. It is a celebration of identity, heritage, and shared values. The showcase of Islamic art provides a space for individuals to connect with their roots, fostering a sense of pride and belonging.

Jaleel added, “One major challenge is the absence of role models, particularly Islamic artists who have become professionals. In addition, there are limited avenues for Muslim artists to grow, especially for our youth who aspire to enter this profession. We aim to help our youth become professional artists and thrive in their art. This is primarily to address the main barrier and challenge. Another issue is the lack of awareness about the funds that Canada provides to artists. Our youth and artists often are not aware of these opportunities, so we utilize our knowledge to direct them toward these resources, enabling them to grow, learn, and promote their art.”

The collaboration between Healthy Muslim Families and WAG-Qaumajuq underscores the importance of cultural dialogue and understanding within the local community. Through art, this event aims to strengthen bonds, break cultural barriers, and create a space where diverse perspectives can coexist harmoniously.

– Zuher Almusre, U Multicultural

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