When Fariha Hashim was 14 years old, she had an experience with a classmate that kept her from school for two days.
“One of the high school girls literally shook me and asked, ‘Why do you wear this?’” Hashim said, referencing her hijab.
The incident happened five years ago, after Hashim had just moved from Pakistan to Saskatoon.
“My parents told me I needed to go back to school and this stuff is going to happen,” the grade nine student said.
Hashim shared her experience during the 10th annual youth leadership summit at TCU Place Thursday.
The conference, put on by the Saskatoon Open Door Society, brings together high school youth from diverse backgrounds to voice concerns around addiction, employment, education, bullying and racism.
“When I came to Saskatoon, not a lot of people were wearing hijabs – so maybe she just didn’t know any better,” Hashim reflected, adding her school’s community co-ordinator helped resolve the issue.
Amna Khan,17, remembered facing bullies at her Toronto elementary school shortly after moving from Pakistan.
“It was the bad type of bullying as they would push me down,” Khan said. “Sometimes I would get hurt really bad, so it was extreme.”
Khan noted, however, that since moving to Saskatoon things have changed.
“I never face bullying here,” she said. “People are really accepting and that’s a good thing.”
The youth conference included talks from local leadership to help empower students and discuss current community initiatives.