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Your Voice – Toronto Police Service Modernization

Umar Nasir

 

On November 5, 2016 CivicMuslims participated in a public consultation on the Modernization of the Toronto Police Service (“TPS”), hosted by the TPS Transformational Task Force. The event aimed to share conclusions on the feedback that the Toronto Police received over the last several weeks of this public consultation series. The Chief of Police, Mark Saunders, was not on hand to participate even though he was initially advertised to be there. Saunders' absence and the mix-up on the start time of the event notwithstanding, the event got off to a good start with introductions from Superintendent Frank Burgen and the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, Andy Pringle. They shared that the Transformational Task Force was launched in February 2016 to examine recommendations related to the long-term reform of how policing is delivered in Toronto.

The content of presentation had various Task Force members speak to the five main areas of focus. The first was changing the 911 response system from a priority model of response to a primary model of response. This essentially means that the police wants to reduce the demand on officers in the field to focus on primary situations where there expertise and support is needed, and establish a referral system for non-primary situations in greater collaboration with internal city divisions. The second was incorporating greater technology into the delivery of services to improve access for civilians; for example, improving the online reporting system and equipping officers with smart technology. Another area of focus was, as Superintendent Burgen described, the ‘bloated budget’ of TPS. We heard from former councillor and mayoral candidate David Soknacki who, along with other community members, are examining this issue to explore efficiencies in operations.

Probably the greatest attention was given to the last two areas of focus which were the Neighbourhood policing and on facilitating a culture change in the TPS. The aim of a neighbourhood policing model was to ensure that all 141 neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto have a dedicated police conduit and dedicated police members that have an opportunity to develop deep and meaningful relationships within the communities they serve. There were a lot of comments and acknowledgement of the need for greater accountability for police misconduct, and the need to improve training and recruiting practices in facilitating a greater culture change.

The audience were civilians from all across the city of Toronto, and also representation from various community agencies with vested interest in the discussion taking place. It was clear that most people who attended the event had either themselves or had people in their lives who were impacted by the police. There was a young man who had a history of drug use and now works as a peer mentor to other youth struggling with addictions and mental health, who advocated that TPS incorporate Harm Reduction into their portfolio of supports for this specific demographic. There was a victim of abuse who shared her experience dealing with the police, and offered insight into her difficult reality and additional supports needed. There was a vocal and animated civilian that raised a number of interesting points on the allocation of police resources, and opportunities to incorporate best practices from around the world. There was also a touching moment when a mother whose son was killed as a pedestrian implored the TPS to adopt more stringent regulations on traffic and pedestrian control at large scale events. Finally there was an impactful statement made by a man who has experienced homelessness, who reinforced the need for action by police for the sake of progress, to which TPS Superintendent Burgen responded, “You can hold me personally accountable!” A CivicMuslims member even got in on the action, and you can watch the video link to hear how we chimed in on the conversation. Overall, it was interesting to hear all the opinions about how the TPS could improve. We can look forward to hearing more about the implementation of these recommendation in 2017.

It was indeed an informative event for YourVoice by CivicMuslims. Stay tuned for more events to come in the New Year!

By the numbers:

A number of impactful testimonials + a room full cautiously optimistic citizens + interesting and practical recommendations  

=

an engaging YourVoice event on the Modernization of Toronto Police Services!

#Eidlicious 2016

Shazlin Rahman

A belated Eid Mubarak, CivicMuslim fam!

It’s been two weeks since we held our annual Eid celebration---Eidlicious 2016---and we’re still feeling the warmth and laughter from that evening. This year, we returned to our favourite spot - Toront’s District Oven for their cozy atmosphere and phenomenal menu of middle eastern-inspired cuisine courtesy of Chef Isam Kaisi.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.33.35 PM.png

Like previous years’ celebrations, every guest went home with a special souvenir courtesy of our signature Eid card exchange. Everyone penned down their thoughts and reflections on Ramadhan, as well as heartfelt Eid greetings. Later on in the evening while everyone was enjoying their desserts of pear gelato and walnut baklava, the cards were randomly distributed to each person. A few brave guests read from their cards and we got to hear how Ramadan brought people closer to the Creator and those around them; we also learned of people’s hopes and aspirations for next year’s Ramadan.

We were very happy to see some familiar facesa few guests said they had attended previous years’ Eid celebration and decided to come back for more. It was wonderful to see the room bustling with new and existing friends, all connecting and reconnecting over some delicious food and stimulating conversations.

This year’s Eid celebration was also an opportunity for us to recognize two dedicated volunteers. Fahmida Kamali recently joined the CM team and dove right into organizing our annual #GIVTAR dinner. We were able to contribute to the Give 30 campaign, which is nearing their $500,000 mark in fundraising dollars. We also bid a fond “See you later!” to Sabiha Kasmani, the lead for our communications team as she prepares to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. Sabiha has been paying the important role of ensuring our initiatives are reaching new and wider audiences through various marketing campaigns. Every CivicMuslim initiative is truly a team effort and we would be remiss if we didn’t pause to thank those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

By the numbers:

30 guests x 30 Eid cards x 257 viewers on our Facebook livefeed = another fun and memorable #Eidlicious

#GIVTAR 2016 | fast.reflect.give.

CivicMuslims

Last weekend, CivicMuslims hosted its Second Annual #GIVTAR event - an iftar benefit in support of the Give 30 campaign. Every Ramadan, Give 30 raises funds for food banks across Canada. This year is an especially important year for Give 30 as they are nearing their $500,0000 mark of funds raised since the organization’s inception in 2012.

On June 18th, CivicMuslims was proud to support three local food banks through Give 30: the Daily Bread Food Bank, The Mississauga Food Bank and North York Harvest Bank. What’s great about #GIVTAR is that each individual guest can select the food bank they would like to support upon purchasing their iftar ticket – and net proceeds from all tickets went directly to the respective food bank.

This year, #GIVTAR planning kicked into high speed two weeks prior to the event. Needless to say, it was crunch time! We held a Volunteer Kick-Off Meeting and gathered individuals from all across the GTA to help us plan and support this year’s event. Folks from all walks of life joined to help make #GIVTAR bigger and better this year. Two weeks later: we were sold out for our special iftar event!

On that warm Saturday evening, our guests trickled into the Centre for Social Innovation in Regent Park. With one hour to go until iftar, we were honoured to welcome our keynote speaker for the evening, Canadian producer, director, actor and Give 30 Ambassador, Zaib Shaikh. Shaikh shared some inspiring and beautiful words on the value of giving. He spoke on the beauty of diversity: diversity in our own city of Toronto, diversity in perspective and diversity in faith and culture. “I’m not a real imam, just one made for TV”, he joked. The crowd ensued in laughter. Shaikh peppered his keynote with brilliant insight, humour and authenticity. We loved it.

 

Ziyaad Mia, founder of Give 30, took the stage following Shaikh’s keynote. Mia shared his vision and story for Give 30. It was an inspiring narrative to hear from the founder himself. Working with Mia to plan #GIVTAR was a treat for the CivicMuslims team. 

As dusk fell, guests reached for juicy dates and glasses of water. Following the breaking of the fast, Shaikh and Mia gathered for the customary cake cutting ceremony (we like to make things official, CivicMuslims style!). #GIVTAR volunteers joined in on the photo, and we proceeded to make our way for Maghrib prayer.

Following prayer, guests lined up for dinner, catered graciously by Somethin’ 2 Talk About. Fresh green salads, peri peri grilled chicken, delectable vegetable and chickpea curries and fluffy rice plated each guest’s dish. The food was absolutely delicious.

Throughout the evening, we had a silent auction with some fantastic gems donated by local entrepreneurs and organizations. We are thankful to Hafsa Creates, Studio 89 and Salam Shop for their support. Who doesn’t love fair trade coffee, delectable gummies and a fine piece of art? Sign me up.

The night was in full swing: conversations captivated the room, and the accompanying patio. You had to be there to see it – the room was full of energy! It was such a beautiful reminder of our different communities, and the ways in which we are all interconnected.

Thank you to all our wonderful partners, friends and supporters for #GIVTAR.

If you were unable to attend this year’s #GIVTAR, don’t fret – it’s not too late to support Give 30. In these last 10 days of Ramadan, we encourage you to visit Give 30’s website, and learn more about each food bank. Help us support those in need this Ramadan. Until next year, all!

By the Numbers:

75 guests x 1 insightful keynote speech x countless beautiful conversations x one very meaningful iftar event

=

An evening of giving and gratitude.

Spring Tree Planting 2016

CivicMuslims

This past weekend, we welcome Spring with some tree planting action! Tree planting is an initiative through CivicMuslim’s GreenSeeds brand, providing environmental stewardship service opportunities such as tree plantings, community gardening, and cleanups.

On April 30th, the CivicMuslims team partnered up with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) to plant trees in the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area in Mississauga, Ontario. The event is part of the restoration efforts to improve the forest canopy that has been decimated by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. 


The Credit Valley Conservation team started our morning off with detailed onsite demonstrations on how to tree plant. Volunteers were shown digging and planting techniques, and were educated on optimal conditions to ensure the trees survive. A portion of the group was also involved in identifying and removing invasive plant species that can crowd out and over compete with the saplings. 
By the end of the morning, the CivicMuslims team had planted over 30 native trees and bushes and had a great time reconnecting with nature. This is the second year we joined this planting event and we look forward to coming back next year!

By the numbers:

20 volunteers x 30 and counting new trees x 1 perfectly sunny day

= a greener vision for Toronto

The Future of Transit in the GTA - YourVoice

CivicMuslims

Last week, CivicMuslims attended an interactive public consultation hosted by Metrolinx and the City of Toronto. This was our second YourVoice event. YourVoice is an avenue for our members to voice their opinions and be present at public consultations, forums and community events. Being in the know and being heard is what we're all about.

The topic of last week's event aimed to get feedback on the Regional Transportation Plan by Metrolinx, proposing to expand existing GO transit lines across the GTHA. Parts of the Smart Track plan were also discussed and explored in a presentation by the City.

The evening was a bit chilly and rainy -  but that didn't stop us! For our pre-event discussion, few of us gathered at pleasant shop called Paintbox Bistro in the Regent Park neighborhood! After our pre-event huddle, where we mainly caught up with each other and shared any new and exciting developments in our lives, we promptly started our short walk to the Nelson Mandela Park Public School for the event itself. Upon arrival, we saw several large foam boards set up along the hallways with eye-catching graphics, diagrams and headings. We quickly realized that all the displayed information was regarding the Metrolinx plan to expand the GO service to various parts of within the city of Toronto and beyond (spoiler alert!).

The evening rolled into discussions and engaging sessions! One fascinating topic of discussion was the idea of a fare integration system between all the transit providers in the GTHA. It was interesting to hear all the opinions about which international fare system would be the best model for Toronto. There seemed to be a lot of support for the way London structured their transit system; essentially the city is divided into zones – and depending on your distance traveled within or between the different zones – there would be a specific charge. In speaking with various people at the event, it was acknowledged that an equitable fare structure needed to be incorporated into the various proposals.

The consultation consisted of a presentation by City staff explaining 3 development projects; Eglinton LRT, transit in the Waterfront area, and the Scarborough LRT. What was interesting to note is that transit development in this city is behind by 10 years – and it will take 15 years to bring the system up to standard.  There was another presentation about the TTC relief line, that shared the results of a multiple phased assessment of 4 potential relief lines; they each focused on specific ‘corridors’ travelling from the Bloor/Danforth line with starting points at Broadview and Pape stations - to points on the Yonge/University line between Queen and King stations. Attendees got the chance to ask specific questions about the Relief lines and what the implications are of each option. The opinions varied, and certainly, the constructive feedback and questioning made for interesting discussion! Many of the attendees voiced their opinions on the topic and content of the presentation. There were interactive boards that asked attendees to suggest where new potential station entrances should be placed with stickers on a huge transit map. There was also plenty of reading materials provided of various assessments and evaluation results for different transit plan proposals.

We were happy to attend this event, and very pleased to speak with Mayor John Tory, who was also in attendance. We compared notes on CivicMuslims and discussed community engagement.

 

YourVoice team and Mayor John Tory

YourVoice team and Mayor John Tory

We capped off the night with our CivicMuslims signature post-event photo (with Mayor Tory!), and a quick debrief on our learnings from the evening, looking forward to the years to come in the rapidly changing world of transit!

By the numbers:

Countless engaging transit discussions x a room full of transit experts x getting the sneak peak on the future of our city's transit plans

=

an enlightening YourVoice event on the Future Transit in the GTHA!

CivicMuslims Presents YourVoice

CivicMuslims

March 10, 2016 marked the official launch of our YourVoice initiative, which aims to facilitate public participation and engagement in issues that affect our city and communities.

With YourVoice, CivicMuslims aims to connect members with opportunities to share their thoughts on, and to learn about, topical issues at town halls, public consultations and forums. We prepare members for these events by creating documents with background information, to be shared with registered attendees, and by hosting informal discussions before and after each consultation to prepare and reflect on the topic of the evening. It's a great opportunity to learn about timely civic issues, and expand one's horizons!

For this very first initiative, a group of nine from CivicMuslims attended an interactive public consultation hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The topic of the event was a proposed overhaul of the Police Services Act (1990), which governs the conduct of police officers in Ontario.

The evening began as any good evening does - at a charming coffee shop! We met at Presse Cafe, Bay St, prior to the consultation, and started with some fun socialising over delicious food. Each member drew a piece of paper from an envelope, and had 30 seconds to talk about whatever was written on the paper (e.g. "Your favourite film/book?", or "What are your thoughts on school uniforms?"). This fast-paced activity worked as a great ice-breaker, and as a warm-up for speaking at the main event. We learned random things about one another - in fun & light-hearted environment. It was exactly what we needed on a cool Thursday evening in March.

The YMCA that acted as the venue for the consultation was only a short walk from the cafe. When we arrived, we each received an electronic keypad (gadgets! oh, yes!) and name tag, and saw that the room was arranged with round tables and comfortable chairs. The consultation consisted of a short presentation by the Ministry, followed by informal voting (e.g. on questions such as: "how safe do you believe your community is?") with the keypads. Attendees got to see results of votes in real time; these votes were mainly for the benefit of the attendees, to get a snapshot of how people in the room were feeling. The opinions on most subjects varied. Certainly, the diverse room produced interesting point of views!

The presentation allowed for interruptions, and many of the attendees voiced their opinions on the topic and content of the presentation, activities and voting, as well as on the topic itself. There was time given for each table to discuss several specific issues relating to the Act and to policing in Ontario. Everyone had a chance to have their voice heard! 

One of the final activities was one where everyone in the room wrote three key skills they felt police officers needed to have, as a bare minimum, and these were written on post-it notes and hung up on a wall and organized accordingly. The event featured several such unstructured and structured methods of feedback, including comment sheets and feedback reports. The colourful post-its reminded us of the mosaic that is Canada - we are a diverse nation. Each community had it's own needs and challenges.

We finished off our event with our CivicMuslims signature group photo (how could we forget!), a quick debrief on our learnings from the evening, and reflections on what we could do with our newfound knowledge on policing in Ontario.

The great turnout, the honest discussions, and the great company made this a memorable first event for YourVoice by CivicMuslims, and we can't wait to bring you more events like it!

By the numbers:

9 engaged people x a room full of information and questions x 30 memorable seconds of laughter x 27 vibrant post-it notes

=

an unforgettable YourVoice launch!

Neighbour2Neighbour

CivicMuslims

Springing Forward with Regent Meals  

This past Sunday, an energetic team of CivicMuslim volunteers battled Daylight Savings blues and rolled up their sleeves to join the Regent Meals Lunch Service. #SundayFunday!

The restaurant-style program is a unique partnership between the Christian Resource Centre and Muslim Welfare Centre. It serves more than 300 nutritious meals to those in need. Regent Park is a diverse and vibrant community comprising of many new Canadians. It is one of the most culturally rich neighbourhoods in the city but has faced challenges in the past relating to poverty, violence and isolation.

The Regent Meals program has been operating on a weekly basis since 2014 and has been so successful that it has been replicated in other parts of the City. It is also the first-ever halal meal program in Toronto and the large Muslim the community residing in Regent Park have been particularly grateful for the service. 

After a brief orientation, the CivicMuslims team was involved with preparing and setting up the venue, plating and serving meals to guests and bussing tables after the patrons had left. A special thank you goes out to the amazing volunteers who pitched in with clean-up at the end. The coordinators were really appreciative of your efforts and commented on the professionalism of the entire CivicMuslims team.

Throughout the day volunteers really connected with the patrons and learned about the challenging situations that residents face including precarious employment, housing security and mental health. The event highlighted critical issues within society and provided an opportunity to learn firsthand about some of the day to day challenges our neighbours face. We are so happy to have helped host this past Sunday Lunch with Regent Meals - and we look forward to future opportunities to extend a helping hand!

By the Numbers:
315 meals served x 9 CivicMuslims Volunteers x 5 fulfilling hours

= the best kind of Sunday morning 


ExperienceX: Astronomy’s Golden Age

CivicMuslims

On February 12, 2016, CivicMuslims launched a brand new campaign that we are thrilled to share with you: ExperienceX.

ExperienceX is an avenue to explore and engage in unique opportunities in the GTA, while hanging out with the CivicMuslims family. Last month, we held our first-ever ExperienceX event: Experience the Islamic Golden Age. This gem of an event was sold out in less than 10 hours! We ventured out to the University of Toronto’s Planetarium and learned about the incredible astronomical ideas of the Islamic Golden Age. 

The night started out in a more earthly manner: a cozy meet-up at Valens restaurant on Toronto’s well known Baldwin Street. There we enjoyed hearty and delicious dishes of seafood, pasta, and bruschetta. Our hearty meals got us ready for an evening of celestial wonder. We threw on our parkas and scarves, and headed over to UofT's Planetarium in the snowy weather. 

There we were greeted by warm twinkling star lights and the mysterious gravitational pull of supernovas. A representative from the UofT Graduate Astronomy Students Association walked us back in time as we explored the discoveries of ancient Islamic astronomers,and traveled the night sky across the Arabian Peninsula from Iraq to Jordan. The 55-minute, sold-out show was held inside a wonderful dome that realistically reflected a clear night sky, a rare occurrence in smoggy downtown Toronto! 

We ended the night by sharing short reflections on how the show inspired us, motivated us, and challenged us. These insightful takeaways coupled with the celestial views of the night sky had everyone feeling as though we were transported through space and time that night.

This show was born from the idea that humanity is #UnitedByTheStars, and UofT donated 100% of ticket proceeds to Red Cross Canada, to help provide Syrian refugees with necessities for survival. CivicMuslims was honoured to be a part of this beneficial and educational gathering. 

 

By the numbers: 

13 curious individuals x $160 dollars raised for Red Cross Canada x exploring billions of stars x visiting millions of galaxies =

an enlightened CivicMuslims outing!

Look forward to more ExperienceX events in the future! 

 


OpenDoors: FEBRUARY EDITION

CivicMuslims

OpenDoors by CivicMuslims

Super Saturday, our latest blog is up! Last Thursday, we held our first ever OpenDoors event. This will be a monthly "open door" event for you to learn more about us & get involved with our initiatives! Check out our blog post for photos, videos & a fun synopsis: http://www.civicmuslims.ca/blog/

Posted by CivicMuslims on Saturday, February 13, 2016

Knock, knock? No need to knock! Just come on in!

Welcome to the first ever OpenDoors. It wasn’t difficult to find team CivicMuslims at the Centre for Social Innovation last Thursday. Members followed the sounds of passionate conversation and the aroma of comfort food to find their way. If that didn't guide you, all you had to do was spot the open doors.

The evening started off with icebreakers, refreshments and introductions. A full house of incredible people from all walks of life. There wasn’t an empty seat around the table!

After the warm welcome, Mohamed gave an overview of CivicMuslims: our history, why we exist, how we are different, and what we do. Then, each team lead gave an update about their work: Muaz discussed Neighbour2Neighbour and the upcoming Regent Meals volunteer opportunity; Nora introduced the soft launch of YourVoice, a brand new civic engagement initiative; Omar updated the room about the third Ideas2Action currently in the making; Manal talked about the Lights Off-Earth On candlelit dinner in celebration of Earth Hour; and Umar gave an epic graphical presentation on the Communications team.

Laughs, aha! moments, and a sense of community pervaded the night. Most people in attendance were new to CivicMuslims but by the sounds of it, you could have never guessed! The gourmet pizza and Italian soda was quickly devoured, but the spark stayed with everyone long after the evening wrapped up. Of course, we had to take a group photo as a memento, CivicMuslims style. 

 

Missed it? Join us at the next OpenDoors on Tuesday, March 1st. We can't wait.

By the numbers:

2 open doors x 21 incredible people x 48 slices of gourmet pizza x 6 loud & clear updates x 1 group shot = a fun first OpenDoors.

What a great group of individuals! Thank you for joining us for our first ever OpenDoors. See you at next month's edition!

Posted by CivicMuslims on Saturday, February 6, 2016


EID SUMMERLICIOUS

CivicMuslims

Last week, we gathered to celebrate Eid over a beautiful Summerlicious dinner at District Oven. Much like any CivicMuslims event, there was a unique twist. Every guest was encouraged to bring an Eid greeting card penned with their Eid thoughts and Ramadan reflections. Check out the Blogpost here: http://www.civicmuslims.ca/eid_summerlicious

Posted by CivicMuslims on Monday, July 27, 2015

Eid Mubarak, CivicMuslims! Last week, we gathered to celebrate Eid over a beautiful Summerlicious dinner at District Oven. Much like any CivicMuslims event, there was a unique twist. Every guest was encouraged to bring an Eid greeting card penned with their Eid thoughts and Ramadan reflections. Throughout the evening, cards were swapped at random and select cards were read aloud by those who chose to share.

District Oven is a gem on College St. in Toronto. Inside, you will find rustic tables, leathered chairs and vintage-esque chandeliers hugging the space flawlessly against the modern artwork on the walls. Filling the back half of District Oven’s beautiful restaurant, we kicked the evening off with an icebreaker. Every guest introduced themselves and shared what made their Ramadan special. Guests recollected how they welcomed a new baby into the family, volunteered at local food banks, spent quality time with loved ones, and even discovered a new and inspiring podcast. The evening continued to unfold with rolling banter and conversation.

In between our main meal and dessert, greeting cards began to make their way around the tables. Envelopes were unsealed, and our guests carefully digested the contents of each uniquely handwritten card. There is always something special about a handwritten note – so much more powerful than a text message or a snap, no? A handful of people stood up to share their cards. Chuckles and sentiments of appreciation filled the room.

Following our card swap, dessert made its way out – an exquisite selection of apricot mohalabia, baklava and sparkling floats. One word, friends: delicious! The evening ended with the must-do for CivicMuslims: a group photo-op to capture the special evening. We just had to.

By the numbers:

26 icebreaker introductions x 78 different dishes x 4 shared greeting messages x countless laughs =

An Eid Summerlicious, unlike any other

Celebrating Eid Summerlicious with @district_oven last week! #civicmuslims #summerlicious #liciousto @liciousto

Posted by CivicMuslims on Sunday, July 26, 2015



#GIVTAR | FAST. REFLECT.GIVE.

CivicMuslims

This year for Ramadan, we hosted our inaugural #GIVTAR by CivicMuslims in support of Give 30, an initiative that raises funds for food banks across Canada.  #GIVTAR, a special iftar to resurface the cornerstones of Ramadan: gratitude, reflection, self and community growth, raised money for three local food banks: the Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest and the Mississauga Food Bank.

With empty stomachs yet eager minds, our #GIVTAR guests joined us at the beautiful Centre for Social Innovation in Regent Park. The crowd took their seats anticipating keynote reflections from Ziyaad Mia, Founder of Give 30, and Gerard Kennedy, Former Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank and Give 30 Ambassador.

A video posted by CivicMuslims (@civicmuslims) on

Mia kicked things off by sharing Give 30’s story and vision – inspiration at its finest. Kennedy shared his experiences from his tenure at the Daily Bread Food Bank. He continued by expressing his enthusiasm for Give 30 and the critical importance of collectively fighting hunger as a community in Toronto.

As dusk fell, the call to prayer was given, indicating that it was time to break fast. Tables were lined with plates full of dates, scrumptious samosas and mason jars filled with refreshing water. Gratitude filled the room and eyes wandered to see if everyone was breaking their fast in unison, and before you knew it, dates were lifted to lips and fasts were broken. Seventeen days down, thirteen to go.

By mid evening, we were ready to revel in our dinner, catered by the lovely Somethin’ 2 Talk About and Paramount Fine Foods. Stunning displays of veggie curry, grilled pear salad, lime chipotle chicken and rice dishes embellished the tables.

The night continued with a silent auction for the Give 30 campaign, allowing guests to bid on unique gems such as local calligraphy artwork, books and fair trade coffee. Needless to say, all of the items were scooped up by the end of the night!

As the night was wrapping up, dessert made its way out and we held an official cake cutting ceremony, with Mia and Kennedy. Comedic banter and iPhone camera flashes in full swing!

Conversations continued to bustle, new friendships permeating, and the Ramadan spirit exuberantly manifesting into the late hours of that warm Saturday evening. What an unforgettable evening it was.

By the numbers:

54 wonderful guests x $ 7,926 in funds raised x 3 GTA food banks x 2 incredible keynote reflections x 6 silent auction delights x 5 balloons that spelt GIVAR (the T was missing, long story!)

=

an unforgettable #GIVTAR affair

Until next year!

CivicMuslims encourages you to share in this cause and cheer others to donate by promoting the #GIVTAR hashtag with your social media networks! You can also find Give 30 on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed on their other initiatives this Ramadan. Share the love, spread the goodness.

#GIVTAR | Fast. Reflect. Give.This year for Ramadan, we hosted our inaugural #GIVTAR by CivicMuslims in support of...

Posted by CivicMuslims on Saturday, July 11, 2015


2015 RIDE FOR HEART

CivicMuslims

On Sunday May 31, CivicMuslims pulled into high gear for an experience of a lifetime: The Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart. It was a rainy & hazy day in Toronto, but that didn't stop our friend Samrah and her family! Get ready for a treat because Samrah is our gracious guest blogger for the 2015 Ride for Heart. Read on for her experience!

Getting the opportunity to bike on the Gardiner and DVP was an amazing experience to enjoy Toronto at the 2015 Becel Ride for Heart on Sunday, May 31, 2015.

This one-of-a-kind view, the good company, a few Gatorade breaks, and of course, the healthy, delicious and well-deserved post-ride snacks offered to all competitors made the grueling uphill battles and the cold wind manageable.

It was also hard not to draw inspiration from watching the avid bike rider zooming past the crowds, the little boy who just learned to ride his bike two weeks ago ("His mother's going to kill me", his father smiled), the older riders travelling slowly but surely, the mother who kept checking in on her children in the bike trailer, the man arm-pedaling on his recumbent bike and the couple pedaling together on their tandem reverse bike - all working to reach the 25, 50 or 75 km mark.


The dreary and wet weather conditions made it difficult to wake up at 5:30 AM, but once we joined the 14,000 other participants in the Ride for Heart, we saw first-hand the power of coming together as a community - working towards the 6 million dollar goal to fund life-saving heart disease and stroke research, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in communities across Canada and the development of life-saving treatments. The event also serves as a reminder to keep up a healthy and active lifestyle, no matter one's age.

Here are some of the comments from our team members:


"It was fun, despite the weather. Looking forward to next year!" -Salman

"Despite the rain and the cold, it was an awesome experience. I am already looking forward to next year and might even double the distance that I cover!" -Mahma


Overall, our team of seven raised 1,100$, beating our original goal of 700$.

IDEAS2ACTION MAY 28 2015

CivicMuslims

Ideas2Action 2015 Video Highlights

Check out the Blog Article about this event: http://www.civicmuslims.ca/ideas2action_2015

Posted by CivicMuslims on Friday, June 12, 2015

On May 28, we were very excited to host the first Ideas2Action event of the year! For those new to Ideas2Action, I2A is a forum hosted by CivicMuslims that showcases community organizations and individuals who have taken “ideasfor good” and have brought them to life. Ideas2Action is one of our key banner events, and we were thrilled to kick things off in May!

Last month, we invited Ahmed Hussein, Executive Director at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO), Zehra Abbas, Founder and Board Member of Studio89 and Ziyaad Mia, Founder of Give30. That evening, we gathered at The Garage at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annexe. The room was full! As dinner was served, guests exchanged banter with familiar and new faces alike. We were so glad to see some newbie CivicMuslims come out and join us!

Ahmed Hussein, Executive Director at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO), spoke about the history of the agency and its achievements.

 “Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office is a multicultural, multi-service agency providing a wide range of community services since 1985,” said Hussein. “We have more than 120 staff at service locations on Thorncliffe Park Drive and at 3 satellite locations in Toronto.”

 What was inspiring about Hussein's presentation was how he spoke to the influence of connection - human, social and even digital! TNO, much like several other successful organizations, utilizes social media to share it's story and narrative. Hussein wrapped up his session by encouraging the audience to regularly self-reflect. He harped on how self-reflection is a key mechanism for learning and consistently improving. 

Zehra Abbas, founder and president at Studio 89, gave a presentation about the youth run social enterprise - a local fair trade cafe in Mississauga. “Studio 89 is a youth empowering social enterprise comprised of a fair trade cafe and an artademic resource centre,” Abbas told the audience. “Studio 89 offers youth leadership, empowerment, and entrepreneurial opportunities while promoting conscious consumerism," she said. Abbas also gave an inspiring lesson on the importance of supporting local goods and looking past the brand name label. Customers vote with their wallets - make the right choice when you purchase a product.

 Ziyaad Mia, founder of the annual Give30 Ramadan campaign, spoke to the power of working for the greater community.

 “Give 30 wants everyone, regardless of faith, donating to the Give 30 Campaign Food Banks during the month of Ramadan so we can fight hunger in our community,” said Mia. His presentation was candid and authentic, and also included a photo of Grumpy Cat. Need we say more? You had to be there!

 All in all, our first I2A for 2015 was an inspiring & motivating event. Speakers shared their journey, openly and honestly, from the ups and downs to the lessons learned and reflections made on making change. We hope you took a tidbit or two away from the event, enough to inspire you to aspire change in your community!

By the Numbers:

3 incredible speakers x 40 engaged attendees x 2 inspiring hours 

= priceless lessons of doing good for the community!

Check out the Blog Article about this event: http://www.civicmuslims.ca/ideas2action_2015

Posted by CivicMuslims on Friday, June 12, 2015


REGENT MEALS WITH MUSLIM WELFARE CENTRE SUMMER 2015

CivicMuslims

On Sunday May 24, CivicMuslims partnered with Regent Meals on a unique project. The premise was powerful: to serve the first-ever Halal food service to families in need in Regent Park, through a restaurant-style service that is both inviting and accessible.

Regent Park is a partnership between the Christian Resource Centre and the Muslim Welfare Centre to better service the residents of Regent Park. Together, they provide over 300 meals to individuals and families in need and serves as a weekly hub for those in the community. They are aspiring change and bridging the gap in this beautiful community.

That morning, an eager group of CivicMuslims volunteers came together to help with kitchen and meal preparation, serving food, hosting and assisting with the cleanup. From start to finish.

The morning kicked off with the set-up and preparation of the venue, which involved setting tablecloths, preparing cutlery and staging centrepieces to create a welcoming atmosphere for the guests. Following a quick orientation, a number of volunteers headed straight to the kitchen to roll up their sleeves and begin preparing and plating the food!

Regent Meals brings in a variety of patrons, some of whom have been in extremely challenging situations. Regent Meals ensures all that their program provides a professionally catered meal that is not only nutritious, but also served in a safe and inclusive environment amongst friends. Throughout the day, we learned that running a food service is hard work - it involves passion and dedication.

We are grateful to have been a part of the first Sunday Halal food service. The overall feedback from the event was extremely positive, with many wanting to come back again! We had a blast, and hope to continue our partnership with such inspiring and engaging organizations.

By the numbers: 

305 meals served x 75 takeout containers x 9 awesome volunteers X 5 hours of good =

over 1M reasons to give back!

Photos Below

 

On Sunday May 24, CivicMuslims partnered with Regent Meals on a unique project. The premise was powerful: to serve the...

Posted by CivicMuslims on Monday, June 1, 2015

TREE PLANTING 2015

CivicMuslims

Our awesome CivicMuslims volunteers tree planting! (For the best quality video, click on the HD button when watching)

Posted by CivicMuslims on Friday, May 1, 2015

They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second best time is now. On Saturday April 25, we decided to act ‘in the now’ for Earth Day! The CivicMuslims team partnered up with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) to plant trees in the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area in Mississauga, Ontario. The sun was shining, the bees were buzzing and trees were waiting to be planted!

The Credit Valley Conservation team started our morning off with detailed onsite demonstrations on how to tree plant. Our team was then lead to a conservation area that had recently been clear-cut due to issues with the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Learning how this small beetle decimated millions of trees in Southern Ontario helped our team to understand the importance of rebuilding our natural environment and sustaining our ecosystem.

 

Volunteers were shown digging techniques, mulching practices to prevent over-competition of weeds, and the importance of tree guards to prevent animals gnawing away at the bark. By midday, we had planted two dozen trees of various types: deciduous, coniferous and some small bushes.

We had such a great time with Credit Valley Conservation, and we are eager to reconnect with the organization in the near future for more tree planting!

By the numbers:

 20 volunteers x 20 and counting new trees x a vision of sustainability =
a greener Toronto!



EARTH HOUR 2015

CivicMuslims

We are so excited to announce the launch of our official blog! Our blog will serve as your go-to spot for a look at all of our events. We hope to inspire and delight you with our stories, candid moments and passion for volunteerism. After every event, be sure to loop back here for an event recap and a fun by-the-numbers summary of the impact you helped make! Keep your eyes on this space and let the good times roll, CivicMuslims style!

On March 28, the CivicMuslims family came together with friends to commemorate EarthHour over a candlelit dinner at Anatolian’s Turkish Restaurant. Anatolian’s does not disappoint – the staff is gracious and accommodating and the food is delicious! The evening started off with what felt like a playful game of musical chairs, rearranging the scene for the perfect EarthHour setting. Our group sat adjacent to a beautiful sunset mural of The Maiden’s Tower, a tower resting on the Bosphorus channel in Istanbul. We definitely had the best seats in the house! Just as we thought it could not get any better, out came our mouth-watering dishes: köfte, lahmacun, börek, kebabs, and a stunning variety of dips and spreads. Of course, a meal is not a meal without dessert. After cleaning off our dinner plates, the baklava and Turkish sweets made their grand entrance with the obligatory post-dinner tea. It hit the spot.

As we wiped our mouths in satisfaction, the clock struck 8:30PM and EarthHour was upon us! This year to celebrate the occasion, we decided we would pledge our environmental resolutions; simple strides towards a smaller environmental footprint. We wrote our resolutions on small pieces of paper, and dropped them into a woven basket. The basket traveled around the table and each person picked a resolution at random and read it out loud. Our environmental resolutions were just as diverse as the people at the table. Here is a look at some of the great ideas that came to light: #ChangeClimateChange.

EarthHour Resolutions | CM STYLE:

Grow herbs on the balcony
Depend on bikes and less on cars and trains
Start composting
Turn off all of the lights before leaving home
Use reusable containers and products
Switch light bulbs with LED bulbs
Build a compost in the backyard
Invest in solar technology
Go to the beach more often
Waste less and recycle more often
Use a travel mug and tumbler instead of water bottles or paper cups for coffee ☺
Turn off the electricity switch in the apartment everyday for 30 days to save ghost power (ergo electricity that’s just wasting without powering anything)
Buy an electric car
Volunteer to plant trees
Make an effort to learn what foods are in season and to buy more locally
Buy less clothes
Recycle electronics
Turn out the lights and watch less television
Swap clothes with friends / family
Cook less food at a time so that no food is wasted

What are your resolutions to decrease your household’s environmental footprint? Make small but consistent resolutions to stay committed and encouraged.

By the numbers:
10 excited individuals x 20 diverse resolutions x 10 cups of steeping tea x one too many laughs =
a cleaner world and happier people!  

 

In the spirit of tradition, the CivicMuslims team celebrated #EarthHour with friends over candlelit dinner at Anatolian'...

Posted by CivicMuslims on Sunday, March 29, 2015


CIVICMUSLIMS 2015 - ONWARDS!

CivicMuslims

Salaam CivicMuslims family,

Happy 2015!

The CM team has been hard at work on a number of initiatives. To give you a sneak peak: we've been working towards incorporating CivicMuslims as a non-profit organization, revamping our website, and putting together a fun & dynamic lineup of upcoming events. We are excited for what this year holds and can't wait to volunteer, connect, and grow with you.

We wish you all the best for 2015. Together, let's make it a year of giving back.

Your CivicMuslims Team
Volunteer. Connect. Grow

SHORELINE CLEANUP 2014

CivicMuslims

CivicMuslims is pleased to invite you to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in Rouge Park, hosted by Site Coordinator Aasiya Hussain of Ecohesian Inc.

Please join in fulfilling our amaanah (sacred trust) by leaving a positive national legacy that helps keep our waters and natural environment healthy and sustainable

Starts: September 28 @ 2:00pm
Location: Rouge Marsh / Beach parking lot (195 Rouge Hills Drive, at Rouge Hills Drive & Lawrence Ave. E.)

To ensure your safety, please wear closed-toe shoes, protective clothing (work gloves, long sleeves and pants), and sun/wind protection for exposed lakefront conditions. (No sandals, please).

Participation is free and gloves will be provided, however you are asked to please bring a reusable water bottle/mug.

Registration is open to the first 100 participants. Online pre-registration is required to reserve your spot.

Registration (required):
http://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/en/cleanup/event/fall2014/rouge-waterfront-west

SULTANS OF SCIENCE EXHIBITION AND IMAX JERUSALEM DOCUMENTARY

CivicMuslims

Sultans of Science celebrates important scientific and technological advancements and discoveries made by scholars during the Golden Age of Islamic Science. Learn how these scholars developed the decimal point, flew the first successful glider and navigated the seas without a magnetic compass. Nine exhibition areas cover astronomy, mathematics, optics and medicine, plus for the first time in North America see a replica of Al-Jazari’s Musical Boat that features an automatic “robot band.”

Jerusalem takes audiences on an inspiring and eye-opening tour of one of the world’s oldest and most enigmatic cities. What makes it so important to so many different cultures? How did it become the centre of the world for three major religions? Follow noted archaeologist, Dr. Jodi Magness, as she explores some of the most extraordinary historical sites in the region in order to better understand this crossroads of civilization. Check out thetrailer.



CIVICMUSLIMS ♥ PROJECT RAMADA

CivicMuslims

Are you ready for Ramadan? Yes? No? Maybe? Get in the spirit of Ramadan by helping put together food baskets for families in need across the GTA with Project Ramadan.

CivicMuslims loves Project Ramadan and they love us back! So this year, as a CivicMuslims volunteer, you will be able to sign up for Project Ramadan’s first basket build on Saturday, June 21, before official registration opens up. Why is that a big deal? Because Project Ramadan volunteer spots fill up every year! This is your chance to guarantee your spot to experience Project Ramadan. 

We had 65 volunteers come out on June 21st and successfully made 625 food baskets (1250 bags). Thank you toMuslim Welfare Centre, Halal Brand for donating our bags, Yasin Dusoruth for taking beautiful photos and Subway (7677 Markham Road) for catering.

We had 65 volunteers come out on June 21st and successfully made 625 food baskets (1250 bags). Thank you to Muslim...

Posted by Project Ramadan on Thursday, July 31, 2014

Donating to Project Ramadan

Consider donating to Project Ramadan to help with the costs of the food baskets. Donations are not mandatory but will help build more baskets to serve more families.

All donations will be received by the Muslim Welfare Centre. The Muslim Welfare Centre is a registered charity (#89733-1732-RR-0001). All donations over $20 receive a tax receipt. Donations will also be accepted onsite at the Muslim Welfare Centre head office.