An award for peace

The co-presidents of Shalom-Salam@York and the group they represent have been awarded the Women’s Intercultural Network (W.I.N.) International Women’s Day Award for helping to build peace and understanding between Jews, Muslims, Christians and other faith groups.


Above, from left to right: Jean Augustine, federal minister of state (multiculturalism & status of women), Shalom-Salam co-presidents Miriam Yosowich and Hina Khan and Talat Muinuddin, president of the Women’s Intercultural Network

York students Hina Khan and Miriam Yosowich were recognized by W.I.N. on Sunday for their work with the student-led initiative Shalom-Salam@York. The aim of Shalom-Salam is to provide an alternative forum for discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where supporters with different perspectives can meet to foster peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding. Over 100 students are members of Shalom-Salam@York. (For more details on the group, see the Jan. 20 issue of YFile.)

“I am very happy and excited to have accepted this award with my other half Hina Khan, who has been one of my best friends for the past year,” said Yosowich. “Our friendship shows that peace is not only possible but a reality and that is what the Women’s Intercultural Network recognized. As a woman this award is empowering because it shows the strong hand that young women who are fearless leaders have in a pro-peace agenda.

“We stand by Shalom-Salam@York and we’re proud of our achievements. Shalom-Salam@York is not about ‘a side’ or ‘sides’, there is only one side in Shalom-Salam@York and that is exclusively pro-peace. This award would have never been possible without Professor Saeed Rahnema, who has been our mentor and guide in this difficult but very rewarding endeavour, and without the help of the members of Shalom-Salam@York who have actively shown themselves to be truly pro-peace.”


Above, Toronto Mayor David Miller accepts a Shalom-Salam pin from co-presidents Khan and Yosowich.

“This award is proof that we are successful in our pro-peace agenda and that other like-minded people are willing to stand with us,” said Khan. “I dedicate this award to every single person who truly believes in Shalom-Salam. Although my co-president and I are here accepting this award, we represent and accept this on behalf of every pro-peace Shalom-Salam member.”

Shalom-Salam@York grew out of discussions that took place in a class called War and Peace in the Middle East taught by Rahneema, a York political science professor. “I am very happy and delighted with the fact that the Women’s Intercultural Network chose these two young women and the group they represent. It is not easy for these two or for any other member of Shalom-Salam right now, particularly with the escalating violence in the Middle East,” said Rahnema, who was in attendance at the award ceremony.

“The 2004 award breaks new ground in presenting the award to Shalom-Salam,” said Talat Muinuddin, W.I.N. president. “This initiative will have an impact on many others beyond the York University campus. Its intention is to foster appreciation and respect for different viewpoints from a Canadian perspective. The W.I.N. award commends these young people for their courage in developing this innovative effort to bridge the gap between Canadian cultural communities.”

The award was presented on March 21 as part of a ceremony that celebrated several award presentations. The event took place at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto (the Association is a member organization of the Women’s Intercultural Network). Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor, Toronto Mayor David Miller, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities Mary Anne Chambers and federal Minister of State (Multiculturalism & Status of Women) Jean Augustine attended the ceremony.