Coalition of Muslim Women Waterloo Region
With Joudi Al Haj Ali, Hanan Al Shommali, Uzma Bhutto,  Rubina Bilal, Rahmah Omar, Nermin Ozdemir, and Fauzia Mazhar.

1:30-3:00 PM MARCH 13

A collection of powerful, inspiring tales presented by the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo. Muslim women from diverse backgrounds who have made K-W their home will be hosting a culture cafe. You can expect to have meaningful conversations by swapping stories and asking questions. Grab your favorite warm beverage and join us for this warm, women-centric step in cultural bridging with good folk and inspiring conversation.

All events require a Femme Folks Fest Pass. If you are able during these unprecedented times, we kindly suggest a donation of $50.
All Femme Folks Fest donations will be directed to local artists.

Hanan Al Shommali

Hanan was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She studied computer science at Damascus university. She got married and immigrated to Canada to join her husband in 2002.  She spent her initial five years in Canada, then her husband got a job opportunity in Saudi Arabia. She moved there and stayed for 12 years. She worked there as an executive secretary in an international school. In 2018 she decided to move back to Canada.

Since she came back, she had been involved in volunteer work with refugees from Syria in the local community schools, and she gave her time to volunteer for about a year in the YMCA until COVID-19 happened.

Hanan discovered my passion to help and work with refugees through her volunteer work. Therefore, she studied a Language interpreter program at Conestoga college and got the ILSAT certification and planning to serve the community through that courier.

Her old and constant passion is to teach Muslim kids the true values of Islam; for that reason, she has been teaching Quran and Islamic knowledge in MGS Islamic school in Kitchener since September 2018 until now.  She is a regular volunteer of Coalition of Muslim Women of KW, where she not only contributes her skills and time but also learn and attend different leadership trainings and other workshops.

Joudi Al Haj Ali

Joudi Al Haj Ali is an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo majoring in Physics and Astronomy. She is currently in her co-op term working as a research assistant at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. She is also a youth representative member of the Kitchener mayor task force.

In addition, she is a volunteer with the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, reviewing grant applications as a member of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge Committee. Her enormous passion for advocating for women’s empowerment and learning was proven through her continuous volunteering and contributions to the Coalition of Muslim Women.

She joined CMW at the end of 2018, just two months after she arrived in Canada. Furthermore, she also had the pleasure to work with CMW as the co-facilitator for HUQUQ human rights project where she designed and delivered engaging workshops on human rights to increase awareness of human rights code. Her goal is to positively impact the world with her ideas and beliefs as she strives to be a good role model. Joudi is originally Syrian, who lived most of her life in the United Arab Emirates. She is fluent in both Arabic and English. Her hobbies include drawing, reading and photography.

Nermin Ozdemir

Nermin came to Canada from Turkey with her husband and 9-month-old son in 2004. She holds a Masters of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. Nermin has continued to pursue learning in the field of social work by attending trainings in the fields of Domestic Violence, Immigration, Addictions, Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism, Diversity, Family Issues, Faith, Refugees and more.

Nermin currently works as a Family Outreach Worker at House of Friendship, where she is seen as a shining example of one who serves others and genuinely cares about individuals and our community. She inspires everyone around her with her energy, creativity and desire to learn and grow and develop herself and others. She is a registered social worker and works as an associate therapist at the Delton Glebe Counselling. Nermin has volunteered her time and skills for many causes and organizations in KW including KDCHC, K-W Multicultural Centre, Luther wood, United Way Waterloo Region Communities, Social Planning Council, Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership and Coalition of Muslim Women of KW.

Rahmah Omar

Rahmah Omar is an interpreter and translator for the Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre. She is a blessed mother of three and proud grandmother of one. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Saudi Arabia, Rahmah Omar made her move to Canada in the early 90’s. While integrating to her new home here in Waterloo Region, Rahmah soon started to help the growing Somali community with their interpretation and advocacy needs within the school, healthcare and social services systems.

As one of the founding members of the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW, Rahmah has passionately advocated for Muslim Women while supporting the organization with fundraising efforts and actively building bridges of understanding with the larger community. More recently, Rahmah has taken on a position on the Board of Tenants Advisory Committee for the Region of Waterloo where she advocates and supports those in her community with housing related issues.

Rahmah is a woman who has devoted countless hours to bettering our Region through volunteering and advocacy work. Her community service efforts are unique and impactful motivating those around her to get involved in creating the changes they wish to see in society. For that she has received few awards as well. Today, Rahmah continues her activism and support in KW in hopes to continue to inspire others to do the same.

Rubina Bilal

Rubina had been working as a banker and a teacher before she immigrated to Canada in 2004. She took her time raising her family along with getting familiar with Canadian society by attending all and any kind of workshops available particularly for women empowerment and leadership. She continued her volunteering anywhere she could to make an impact. Rubina believes in giving back to the community and she takes it as her responsibility.  She is a Peer Health worker and co -chair of ouran organization (Muslim Women of Cambridge (MWC), whose goal is to bridge the gap within Muslim and larger community through effective communication.

Fauzia Mazhar

Fauzia Mazhar has 18+ years of experience in the local social profit sector, much of it in leadership and management. She holds a Masters of Social Work degree with specialization in Community, Policy, Planning, Organizations (CPPO), and a post graduate certificate in Leadership and Management from Wilfrid Laurier University.

In 2010, Fauzia joined hands with a handful of women in KW to start the modest initiative to empower Muslim women to be leaders and change makers, able to address stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslim women through community outreach and bridge-building, which is now known as Coalition of Muslim Women of KW or CMW.

Fauzia is community builder and an engaged citizen, passionately bringing people and groups together to build a welcoming, inclusive and safe community. She is also an optimist who likes a good laugh.

Uzma Bhutto

Meet Uzma; a medical doctor from Pakistan, a fun loving and friendly mother of a 15 years old son, and the cousin of the first female Prime Minister of an Islamic state, late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. Uzma is very proud to be a Muslim woman with a modern outlook towards life. One who crossed borders to accept challenges and struggled her way up to assume leadership roles in the community.

She completed her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Waterloo in 2009. Through her enriching experiences she has gained valuable understanding of global health issues, with a focus on female and mental health issues. During her MPH at Waterloo, she worked on an under researched topic successfully completing a research paper on “Domestic Violence against South Asian Women in Ontario”, and later contributing the experiences towards mental health in diverse communities particularly with South Asian, Arab and Chinese communities.

She has been involved with CMW for the last ten years. She believes in positive impact for the humanity, and for her community work, she has received numerous awards. She is truly thankful to Femme Folks Festival for providing a beautiful platform for growing together and building strong bonds. Uzma really enjoys chatting with community members, cooking multicultural food, watching Korean dramas and playing badminton.