BY: HABEEB ALLI
The youth are our greatest asset. This time of the year with so much gun violence and gang-related bastings by the police besides the alarm over the legalisation of marijuana it’s inspiring to know there are people whose lives have changed after incarceration
Every year the One Love Gala celebrates that! Now that is rare if not unique that a gala would actually recognize inmates who have reintegrated successfully like Ahmed Hahhab whose story never gets boring- after a life of drugs he finally made an about turn during his time inside the pen. Today he has a family and successful business and has been on a speaking tour since!
The One Love Gala started out some six years ago when the former regime in power wished to get rid of diversity chaplaincy in the federal institutions. Today the opportunity to connect with the community and enjoy great conversations is worth a lot after the splurge of social media screens domination.
The Keynote Speaker Dr. Dilkhush Panjwani was recently recognised at the Queens Park Toronto with the Order of Ontario for his yeoman service in the field of mental health and his address on issues surrounding inmate suicide and mental health was deeply astounding, to say the least!
The awardees include Sadro Usman who has continuously supported inmates at he halfway house in Brampton and continues to help families of the incarcerated who visit him at the Brampton Islamic Centre. Elizabeth Rahman took home, to Peterborough, the Lyla Ali award for education as her work to bring the three Abrahamic faiths has been phenomenal as we know the Abraham Festival didn’t only raised funds for the Syrian families but fundraised for the mosque when it was firebombed. The others include longtime volunteer Chaplain Mr. Ishola Shakiru who drives across the province to visit men inside both provincial and federal institutions. Hodan Nahayaleh from the Somali Channel Integration TV with over 5M followers received an award for her work among Somali youths in the schools and to that point Joan John talked about her work in the Jane and Finch area. Noted was the presence of Hon MP Rob Oliphant who was has been a friend of the gala and serves a large Muslim constituency in the Thorncliffe area- he has been a warrior against Islamophobia in many fronts.
The Master of Ceremony that evening was Kerry Lee Crawford from the famous Caribbean radio station 98.7 and Sauliha Alli, a U of T student and researcher at CAMH – they both worked the crowd with charisma and showmanship!
The organising committee was on stage to receive a recognition certificate from Parliament Hill for continuing the One Love Gala- where people of all walks of life attend- for the sixth year and this time round funds were raised through silent auctions and active fundraising by the fundraiser Shaikh Riad Ouarzazi in order to purchase mobile wudu units for some Muslim inmates to perform ablution easily.
An evening of great testimonies – like Talib talking that at one time he carried a handgun but now he carries his faith and don’t run or like Robin talking with passion how he was looking for fast money but now he works with famous Canadian companies! The presenting sponsor of the event was Human Concern International and we are grateful for all the sponsors, volunteers, attendees, speakers and performers like No Fixed Address band, for without them we couldn’t have enjoyed the power of love felt during the sixth annual One Love Gala!