Canadian-born children of immigrants are top students at Ryerson University:
Mariam Nouser: 20, daughter of an Egyptian and an Irish immigrant. A third-year mechanical engineering student, with a minor in Spanish and entrepreneurship and innovation. She wants to start her own business.
“I started wearing the hijab after I finished high school. It was a way to start a new life and reclaim my Muslim self. I have a dual identity. I cannot imagine not wearing it. If I couldn’t go to school with my hijab, then my God-given talents would be wasted. I have experienced some harassment but I felt confident enough to report it to the police.”
Tasneema Ahmed: 21, daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants. Occupational health and safety student, with a minor in human resources.
“I started wearing the hijab in Grade 7. I went to a Catholic high school and nobody bothered me at all. I was a track athlete and very social, with good grades. The hijab is just part of my dress code, like wearing jeans. I cannot imagine living in a country like France where they don’t let students wear one. In Toronto you see so much diversity, although there are still incidents of bigotry. Like a guy on the subway called me a terrorist.”
Bashra Tahan: 19, daughter of professional Lebanese immigrants. A chemical engineering student, she wants to work in a water-treatment facility.
“In high school, I didn’t have any problems. Here on campus, I tell my classmates, I will be right back, I just have to go pray and they are understanding. Toronto is very open. Our religion really values education. If I had to choose between wearing a hijab and going to school, like in France, I would leave the country.”
Maheen Wasti: 18, daughter of a Pakistani engineer, who now drives a taxi. A chemical engineering student, she wants to work in a chocolate factory or in manufacturing.
“Our parents worked so hard and we have to give back. We take nothing for granted. I went to a Catholic school and was exposed to so many different religions. We celebrated all the holidays. I have had no discrimination here because of my hijab. It is surprising that such a developed and famous country like France forbids the hijab.”