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Building a Greener Community Conference

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Green Ummah is excited to present the first-ever Muslim-run environmental conference in Canada on March 6th and Sunday, March 7th 2021.

About this Event

Green Ummah is a non-profit working to build an environmental movement within Muslim communities across Canada. We are excited to present our first-ever Building a Greener Community Conference with the support of our main project partner NatureHood, Nature Canada, alongside the support of Windsor Law, the Cities and Climate Action Forum at the Centre for Cities (Windsor Law), Khaleafa, Ecohesian and the Mosaic Institute.

Our hope is that this digital event will carve a necessary space to speak about how we can integrate inclusivity, allyship, intersectionality, and community-building within the environmental movement in Canada. We have brought together a range of talented speakers who can speak to these topics in practice.

This event will take place Saturday, March 6th and Sunday, March 7th 2021, between 12 PM EST and 3:30 PM EST. A Zoom link will be provided closer to the date. Below is our full agenda for the conference:

DAY ONE: Saturday, March 6th

Panel 1: How do we build a greener community?

12 PM to 1 PM EST

Speaker: Zehra Abbas

Zehra Abbas is the Executive Director of Umano, working to actively inspire empathy and advance story-telling for humans, animals, and the environment. Umano funds non-profits who are seeking to build sustainability and financial resilience through social enterprise. Zehra is also the founder and volunteer President of Youth Troopers for Global Awareness and its social enterprise, Studio.89, a non-profit community hub and fair trade, vegan cafe in Mississauga. Although the space is temporarily closed, developing a second location is underway with a partnership with Daniels Corporation. Zehra has also recently endeavoured a filmmaking quest for a documentary called 'Halalified' featuring 45 vegan Muslims worldwide. (umano.org / studio89.org)

Panel 2: What does Islam say about the environment?

1:30 PM to 2:30 PM EST

Moderator: Dawood Zwink

Dawood Zwink is presently serving as the Manager of Social Justice for the Islamic Society of North America – Canada which includes the issues of Indigenous Relationship Building and Environmental concerns including Climate Change. He has been closely associated with the work of Turtle Lodge Central House of Knowledge and Elder Dr. Dave Courchene since 1986. In 2009/2010 he helped develop and finalize the Agreement of Kii Zhay Otti Zi Win and Ukhuwa – An Agreement of the Spirit of Friendship, Kindness, Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Sharing and Gentleness between Turtle Lodge and Muslim Communities of Canada signed at the Islamic Institute of Toronto in Scarborough, ON. In recent years he has actively engaged in relationship building with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Ontario.

Regarding the Environment, Dawood was a Canadian delegate to the 2019 Climate Change Summit on Divestment / Reinvestment in Cape Town, South Africa. He worked closely with Imam Saffet Catovic in editing an environmental fatwa draft and at the opening press conference announced the historic first fatwa anywhere in the world on Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Divestment by the Fiqh Council of North America (FIQNA) which Imam Catovic authored. Dawood also organized three years of Scoutrees planting programs for Muslim Scouts Canada groups in the GTA. He was also the organizer of Touch the Earth with Friends of Rouge Watershed – spring and fall tree planting and habitat restoration in Rouge National Urban Park, ON. He has served as Co-founder, Chairman, President and Elder Emeritus of the Somali Relief Fund. The work started in 1980 and has helped to address environmental and refugee issues in the Horn of Africa including tsunami relief shallow well reconstruction, old growth acacia tree conservation, demonstration gardens with a tree nursery, and solar power for deep wells which provide water for the local community and camps of minority Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Speaker: Imam Saffet A. Catovic

Imam Saffet Abid Catovic has been a long-time US Muslim Community Organizer/Activist and Environmental Leader. He is a core member of the Parliament of the World's Religions Climate Action Task Force and serves on their Board of Trustees, and has been recently elected as Treasurer. He is also a member of the Statewide Clergy Council of Faith in New Jersey, a Faith in Action affiliate, and also serves on their Board of Directors. Saffet is a GreenFaith Muslim Fellow and serves as their Senior Muslim advisor. He is: the Co-founder and Chair of the Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ); a founding board member of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Green Initiatives; a consultant to the Drafting Committee of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change; a founding member of the Global Muslim Climate Network (GMCN); a Co-drafter of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) "Fatwa" Religious ruling on fossil fuel divestment and member of the scholars Drafting team of "Mizan - Islamic Covenant for People and the Environment" organized under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Saffet has been recently appointed to the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) - Diwan - Executive Board. Imam Saffet serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Drew University where he also received his MA in Religion and Society, specializing in Religion and the Environment.

Speaker: Memona Hossain

Memona is a mother and wife. She is pursuing her PhD in Applied Ecopsychology. Ecopsychology is the area of study that explores the connective, holistic relationship of humans and the Earth. Some of her research work includes Islamic narratives within Environmental work in Canada and around the world. She also addresses topics on Indigenous and Islamic Perspectives on the Environment, and topics related to Islamophobia. Memona occasionally teaches through the University of Guelph Arboretum and at the Riverwood Conservancy. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) as well the Q.Ed Foundation. She holds a Master’s in Education from The University of Toronto.

Community Space 1: Networking Session

2:30 PM to 3:30 PM EST

DAY TWO: Sunday, March 7th

Panel 3: How can we build an inclusive green movement?

12 PM to 1 PM EST

Moderator: Camille Koon

Camille’s background in nature-based programming and pedagogy, and her commitment to equity led her to her current role as NatureHood Organizer at Nature Canada. As NatureHood Organizer, she supports partners in connecting young people to nearby nature, with a focus on addressing barriers experienced by racialized young people in a sustainable and community-driven way.

Speaker: Aasiya Hussain

Aasiya Hussain is an award-winning Canadian Racialized Muslim Woman with Disabilities, accessibility professional, geographer, environmental professional, researcher, author, educator, outdoor professional, speaker, and community catalyst. Her expertise includes inclusive barrier-free accessible stewardship, conservation, sustainability, SDGs, water, climate, pollution, zero-waste, outdoor education, reconnecting with and cherishing nature, parks and natural resources management, disaster management, human rights, and intersections with environmental justice, disability justice, social justice, health, community development, governance, universal design, & barrier-free accessibility with “nothing about us without us” to “leave no one behind” among the most vulnerable of people and planet.

Aasiya’s roles include being the founder and CEO of Ecohesian, member of the federal Accessibility Standards Canada’s Technical Committee for Outdoor Spaces, a key stakeholder establishing and cherishing Rouge National Urban Park, director of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Rouge National Urban Park, Certified Hike Ontario Safe Hiker & Leader Instructor, while galvanizing inclusive COVID-19 and disability-health-environment disaster management efforts for just recovery and resiliency, and has served with several parks and conservation authorities, and environmental organizations. She is nurtured by Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Elders of Turtle Island and Islamic Studies while striving in collaboration with diverse communities (including allyship with marginalized Racialized Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, Multicultural, Interfaith, and Disability Communities), Civil Society, CSER, the Government, and NGOs, for people & planet.

Speaker: Demiesha Dennis

Demiesha Dennis (pronouns She/Her) is the Founder and CEO of Brown Girl Outdoor World. As an outdoor enthusiast with a passion for building community and representation in outdoor spaces, she shares her love for the outdoors through various adventures, while encouraging and inspiring others to step out and do the same. She is actively working to change present narratives regarding people of colour and their place and engagement in outdoor spaces. When not navigating Toronto’s corporate jungle, she can be found fishing, bungee jumping, camping or hiking from coast to coast and doesn’t see herself stopping soon. With a community behind her working to make tangible changes, she is guiding others into nature and challenging them to “Change the Narrative Through Outdoor Adventure.”

Speaker: Chúk Odenigbo

Franco-Albertain from Calgary, Chúk is incredibly passionate about the interactions between culture, health and the environment. This passion manifests itself in his three primary roles as (1) Founding Director for Future Ancestors Services Inc., an Indigenous and Black-owned, youth-led professional services social enterprise and startup that advances climate justice and equity with a lens of anti-racism and ancestral accountability; (2) Co-founder of The Poison and The Apple, a Albertan born bilingual non-profit organisation that seeks to change the way in which Canadians interact with nature at a sociocultural level in order to diversify outdoor spaces and make nature truly for all; (3) and, PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa in Medical Geography where his research looks at the relationships between human health, the environment, geographic factors, society, and healthcare to shed light on public health policies and strategies.

Chúk was ranked amongst the top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders by Corporate Knights, the top 30 Change-Making Albertans under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, the top 10 young Franco-Albertan leaders by Radio-Canada and the top 25 environmentalists under 25 in Canada by the Starfish for three years. Chúk was MEC's ​​ambassador for the outdoors and is an alumni of the first Ocean Bridge cohort, a group of young Canadians leading ocean health and literacy projects across Canada.

Panel 4: How can we nurture Muslim and Indigenous allyship?

1:30 PM to 2:30 PM EST

Moderator: Aasiya Hussain (see above)

Speaker: Dawood Zwink (see above)

Speaker: Pending Confirmation

Community Space 2: Concluding Thoughts

2:30 PM to 3:30 PM EST

If you are interested in learning more about our organization, we encourage you to follow us on social media @greenummah or send us an email info@greenummah.org or reach out to our chair directly marium.vahed@greenummah.org.

Note: our event is Pay What You Can. As a new non-profit, we appreciate donations. If you would like a refund, we encourage you to send us an email.

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