The Muslim Awards for Excellence are launching a new initiative to further their vision of celebrating and encouraging excellence in the Canadian Muslim community; all with the fundamental goal of changing the narrative about Muslims in the Canadian context.
The program is geared towards near and early career students, who will be matched to mid-career Muslim professionals in their respective field of interest.
MAX Mentors is targeted mentorship program geared towards high-achieving, high-potential Canadian-Muslims. It will allow the Muslim Awards for Excellence (MAX) to continue and catalyze the sort of Canadian-Muslim success that MAX was started to celebrate and encourage.
MAX was founded with a specific focus on highlighting the achievements of the Muslim community. The MAX Mentorship initiative is well aligned with MAX’s fundamental goal of changing the narrative about Muslims in the Canadian context. Moreover, MAX is uniquely situated in the community due to its great success in networking with community organizations, businesses, professionals and students, both within and outside of the Muslim community.
Islamophobic rhetoric is on the rise across the Western world, and Canada and Ontario are not immune. The Muslim identity has become shrouded in defensiveness and ambiguity.
A new conversation is needed about what it means to be Muslim in the West. Unity is needed, particularly as the Muslim community in Canada is a heterogenous population of various immigrant backgrounds.
Where the pioneers of the Muslim community have thus far been focused on economic survival and cultural adaptation, ours has worked towards integration. We have worked to use the opportunity that our parents provided us with. But that is not enough. In order to give younger Muslims access to true equality of opportunity, we believe it is instrumental to look to the successful members of the community, who already permeate various roles in their respective fields for their advice, skills, and social capital on to the new generation.
Muslims who are established in their careers are powerful resource as role models and mentors for the youth that are following in their footsteps.
The program is structured around three specific age groups: near-career students, early career and mid-career professionals. Early career professionals will mentor the near-career students and the mid-career professionals will mentor the early-career professionals.
Mentees will be able to find a mentor who can answer questions and offer specific insight into their career path or opportunities for further networking. Opportunities for training and further research will be discussed.
Our mentorship program encompasses a breadth of fields – medicine, law, politics, media, start-ups and so forth. We will work with community organizations who are already organizing mentorship programs and capacity-building initiatives. To this end we will work with the Muslim Medical Association of Canada, Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, National Council of Canadian Muslims and so forth.
It takes a village. We’ve made it this far because at many points someone told us they believed in us and gave us access to opportunities we otherwise would not have found.
It takes a community. We come from all corners of the world and represent all strata of society. What unites us is our humanity, our faith and our nation.
Since the time of the Prophet (PBUH), Islam has promoted a rich culture of communal assistance and mentorship. It will take all of us to build excellence amongst Canadian Muslims. For our mentors, this will be a refreshing and purposeful means of sharing invaluable wisdom. For our mentees, it will be an opportunity to kick-start, or invigorate, their careers.
Our current program initiative is focused on recruiting and partnering Mentors and Mentees in the GTA. Next year (2018), we plan to expand the program across Ontario. By 2019, we are aiming to have a Pan-Canada program. While we are developing our Canada-wide program, we are still considering e-mentoring as a definite option.