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Oral history interview with Saima Hussain conducted by Rijja Moeen

Saima Hussain is a well-known journalist and award-winning book writer who currently works as a supervisor at the Mississauga Library. As an immigrant to Canada from Pakistan and spending many years of her life in Saudi Arabia, Saima focuses on being involved in the community, such as becoming a member of the Council of Agency Serving South Asians, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and running programs for newcomers. Saima completed her MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and also worked there as an admissions counsellor. She then moved to Pakistan where she became an editor at Dawn newspaper. Upon returning to Canada, she produced a history book for young readers called The Arab World Thought of It: Inventions, Innovations and Amazing Facts, which received an award from the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. She also wrote another book called The Muslimah Who Fell to Earth: Personal Stories by Canadian Muslim Women to allow representation of Muslim women in the world.

In her oral history with interviewer Rijja Moeen (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Saima Hussain speaks about her experiences of being a journalist and writer, how she has made a difference in the South Asian community through her work, the importance of religion in her life, and her experience of being an immigrant to Canada.

Oral history interview with Amanat Kaur conducted by Khushpreet Virk

Amanat Kaur is an international student that came from India. She is originally from India and was raised in India. Amanat currently resides in and works at an immigration office in Brampton. Amanat immigrated to Canada in 2014 and she is currently in her early 20s. The interview covers several themes such as religion, education, work, mental health, immigration, and general lifestyle in the Peel Region.

In her oral history with interviewer Khushpreet Virk (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Amanat Kaur goes in depth about the immigration experience and her experiences with racism, religion, and community involvement. Furthermore, the interview goes in depth and talks about the mental health of international students and the struggles international students face when they immigrate to Canada.

Oral history interview with Jeejna Mandavia conducted by Mukti Patel

Jeejna Mandavia is a teacher who now lives and works in the Peel Region. In her oral history with interviewer Mukti Patel (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Jeejna Patel speaks about the role of faith in her and her family’s life, her dependence on her guru, her father’s passing, her experiences with racism as a child, and her experiences as a mother.

South Asian Oral Histories in Peel collection

  • CA UTM C001
  • Collection
  • 2021

Collection consists of 14 oral history interviews with members of the South Asian diaspora residing within the Peel Region (Mississauga and Brampton) in Ontario, Canada. Interviews were conducted by students enrolled in the senior undergraduate course RLG360 Special Topics in South Asian Religions: South Asian Oral Histories in Peel offered at the University of Toronto Mississauga in the 2021 winter term during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

South Asian Oral Histories in Peel Project

Oral history interview with Ali Kazmi conducted by Zahraa Syeda

Ali Kazmi is a Pakistani-Canadian actor and director, as well as a Toronto Film School alumnus who migrated from Pakistan to Canada in 2007 to pursue his career in film and television. Kazmi’s parents, Rahat Kazmi and Sahira Kazmi, were two of the pioneers of Pakistani television content in the 1980s.

In his oral history with interviewer Zahraa Syeda (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Ali Kazmi speaks about his transition from Pakistan to Canada, his experiences and struggles in pursuing his cinematic career, his Oscar-nominated film, stereotypes regarding gender roles within his culture as well as the taboo attached to mental health and sex education within the South Asian diaspora. Additionally, he sheds light on his ideas and views of religion and spirituality, and where they stem from.

Oral history interview with Andy Ramgobin conducted by Prashil Gandhi

Andy Ramgobin is a member of the Shiv Ganesh Mandir in Brampton where he plays the harmonium during various prayers and live events. In his oral history with interviewer Prashil Gandhi (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Andy Ramgobin speaks about what role religion plays in his life and how music was what brought him closer to religion. Andy also draws upon the differences around the aspect of what religion means to him, his parents, and family back home in Guyana.

Oral history interview with Sophia Syed conducted by Areeb Daimee

Sophia Syed is a teacher who works in the Peel Region at Rick Hansen Secondary School. Mainly focusing her teaching on politics, religion, and world issues, Sophia seeks to connect students to understanding the different political structures, cultures, beliefs, and concerns that play a significant role in peoples’ everyday lives.

In her oral history with interviewer Areeb Daimee (UTM undergraduate student at the time), narrator Sophia Syed spoke about the significance of South Asian teachers for South Asian students in Peel, the ways in which such representation can help combat discrimination for both students and teachers, and her experiences supporting South Asian cultural and religious celebration in the school.

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