‘Before this evening I did not know these names…’ by Annie Ross

yellow, orange, fuchsia, purple and red flowers for the 2nd Sequence, crafted by Hafsah Durrani

Women Who Named the Unnamed

Surrey Muse Arts Society (SMAS)
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC)

Deep thanks to Fauzia Rafique, for many reasons, but most recently for Women Who Named the Unnamed: Celebration of Pakistani and Canadian Women Heroes, held at Surrey City Hall.

Please excuse me, before this evening with my dear Fauzia, friends, community, and colleagues, i did not know the names Sabeen Mahmud, Fahmida Riaz, Asma Jahangir, Madeeha Gauhar, Sarah Suhail, Sheema Kermani, Kishwar Naheed, Hina Jilani, as i do now. Learning of their lives (via biographical film and commentary), filled me with humility, Power, and shored up my belief in how the life of one person, can, does, has and will make profound movement towards our collective Justice, Rights.

our smallest whisper, our deepest dreams,
our many acts, both humble and large

There are so many aspects one may speak of, regarding this glorious, respectful, intelligent evening. In addition to the creative, courageous genius highlighted in this program, were those who were targeted and killed while performing their work in the world. Martyrdom, legion in the beliefs of many spiritual practices and religions of the world, have a place here, and in history. Heroes in Spirit committed and offered sacrifice in order to reach our collective, potential (yet unfulfilled) Rights and Justice. We can be encouraged here, that our smallest whisper, our deepest dreams, our many acts, both humble and large, can and do bring Rights and Justice to Life. So many live and work for others, Land and all of Earth’s Beings, yet remain invisible, lives censored to history, their righteousness is a shining light in dark times.

we honour those whose work challenges and attempts to transform
state-sponsored disappearances (desaparecidos)

That martyrdom remains a reality of contemporary Canadian Indigenous Rights Actionists, Land Defenders, and Indigenous peoples world-wide, is a heart-breaking fact of our contemporary times, one barely acknowledged in our privileged country. In Women who named the unnamed, we honour those whose work challenges and attempts to transform state-sponsored disappearances (desaparecidos), military interference in civil society, and move towards rights, action, liberation, where the struggles of the poor, marginalized, and oppressed are seen and recognized. Women Who Named the Unnamed honours work and lives of all who are critical to a free and just society.

Thank you to all involved, for educating and enlightening, on people and philosophies needed in our world crying for Equality, Justice, Rights.

To review a video of Women Who Named the Unnamed, suggested here for universities, libraries, and community centres, please check this page where more information will be available soon.
pakistanswomenheroes.wordpress.com/program/videos

Annie Ross (Maya) is a Professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University. She developed and taught courses focusing on rights and title, environmental justice, and testimonio as a means to remedy from past political oppressions; Indigenous art histories, technologies/craft, weaving, poetry and poetics, and printmaking as part of a panoply, a canon, of what we mean when we say Indigenous Bioregionalisms.

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View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
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A Never-Seen-Before program ‘Women who Named the Unnamed’ by Ajmer Rode

Program Poster designed by Mariam Zohra D.

‘Surrey weekends have become colorful these days. Variety of cultural programs presented by South Asian artists is one of the reasons. One such program I recently attended was, ‘Women Who named the Unnamed’ the like of which I can hardly remember ever seeing. The program, every aspect of it, exuded creativity and devotion. Truly inspiring. Presented by Surrey Muse Arts Society with some other South Asian organizations, the program celebrated women heroes from Pakistan and Canada. Poets, authors, social and political activists, scholars, theater artists… made the list. The program was presented on the Center Stage Surrey. And the five young women who presented it with their unique graceful artistry seemed to say the unsaid about the women heroes. Kudos to them five sui generis.

‘Each Pakistani woman was introduced highlighting how she challenged the very ethos of Pakistani culture, how she dared question the patriarcho-religious entrenchment that wants to keep women subservient. Salute to their initiatives, courage, dedication and championship. Local women heroes were also lauded for their bold initiatives and pioneer work to empower women in our androcentric milieu.

‘We need more programs like Women Who named the Unnamed. They inspire, especially our youth, to follow and excel their heroes. Our big thanks to Fauzia Rafique and other organizers whose vision and hard work culminated in such a wonderful program.’

From Ajmer Rode’s Facebook post published October 8, 2019.

 

Ajmer Rode is an author, poet and playwright based in Vancouver who has played an important role in the development of literature and art in BC’s Punjabi communities. Visit his Facebook page:

facebook.com/ajmer.rode

 

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View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
..

‘The Honouring of Pakistan’s Women Heroins’ by Teresa Klein


Deep gratitude to Fauzia Rafique and all the amazing women who presented and participated in the deeply moving ‘Women Who Named The Unnamed’ at Surrey City Hall, Center Stage on Saturday September 28. This honouring of Pakistani Women Heroines, the telling of their stories of resiliency and rebellion to the systemically condoned acts of atrocities against women, was delivered with reverence and tender grace.

As audience I felt I was tenderly being initiated. With expanding awareness I felt invited into an extended global family, with attentive youth, tending mothers and Wisdomed Elder-women, all of us bonding through story sharing and kindred heart energy.

My wish is for all, who may not be familiar with or not know the depth of the struggles that have been faced and are still being faced, to have opportunity to be touched by the breaking of the silences of ‘The Women Who Named the Unnamed’ An amazing project and production! Deep Bow!

From Teresa’s October 5 Facebook post
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Teresa Klein is a dreamer and a community leader. She is involved with a Community Garden/Medicine Wheel in Newton, an area of Surrey that has experienced trauma and had visible presence of homelessness and substance abuse issues. Beginning its Fourth growing season, despite its challenges, the Garden has become a centre for community engagement bridging generational, cultural and socio economic gaps to create a warm and welcoming space. theplot.ca. Teresa was an important part of September 28 event where she had provided all flora and fiona for the stage including a custom made wreath, a real tree in a planter, flowers and flowering plants. Thank you, Teresa.

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
..

‘An Engaging Inspiring Peaceful Calm and a High Caliber Event’ by Harinder Dhahan

End of the 3rd Sequence – Sunera Thobani, Surjeet Kalsey, Deanna Reder, Harsha Walia, Darshan Mann – with Hina Imam, Sameena Siddisui, Sana Janjua, Hafsah Durrani – photo by Sophia Eugeni

Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes

‘I along with my brother, sister, daughter and a niece were privileged to attend the Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes. It was an eyeopener to watch and realize how much adversity and hardship women go through to fight for their own and others’ rights. They take and are still taking daring steps to bring justice and equality. The women heroes advocated in diverse ways – through protests, dance/artistic performances, writing/publishing and providing safe spaces for women to express themselves.

‘The celebration was well organized with creativity, thoughtfulness, love and respect for all. The women who took the initiative to recognize, honour and celebrate the work being done by the women heroes are already walking in the footsteps of those great women fighters in order to continue their work. The presenters conducted this program in such a way by which they got the audience fully engaged. For example, when the presenters would light the candles, take off their flowers and attach them to the wreath after each segment, it gave the audience time to let the stories resonate and be an integral part of the whole program. All the participants/speakers were welcomed to the stage with genuine and sincere respect.

‘Just as the heroes’ work needs to continue, these events should continue to reach a wider audience in order to bring awareness about what’s happening in the women’s world and how women are trying to reach out by putting their own lives in danger.

‘All the organizers and helpers may have put in countless hours, effort and collective energy to produce such an engaging, inspirational, peaceful, calm and a high clibre event. I would like to commend the excellent work you have done. All the best in your future endeavors.’

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

..

‘So Proud of You Mom’ by Shayla Dawn Szabo

Katheren Szabo, Woman of Courage, at Saturday’s celebration

So honoured to have attended the Women who Named the Unnamed tonight, and so proud to hear my mom speak and open the event- such powerful messages and inspiration throughout the entire event.

Shayla Dawn Szabo at ‘Women Who Named the Unnamed’

I can’t put the words together to tell you how amazing it was. I’m in complete agreement with our friend Teresa who spoke to us at the intermission of how this should be an event that should reach schools and be televised and reoccurring to reach, inspire and touch the hearts and minds of the many whom it would definitely impact.


Third and the last Sequence, Celebrate the (here) and Now, Guests and the Hosts

Thank-you Fauzia, and Mariam and all who brought together ‘The Women who Named the Unnamed’, thank you Mom, for you truly are The Woman of Courage and so much more in my heart and in many others’.

Thank you Teresa and Rella for the gift of your company and support for my mom.


Katheren’s voice reaches out as a Woman of Courage

Thank you Mom, you have given your all to lift and love. You make me so proud. You give me hope, community, courage, choice, empowerment, confidence, so much love and so much more, you are a leading example to me and you are the best mom I could ever have asked for. So deeply blessed to journey in life as your daughter… and to stand beside you as I grow and learn through experience. To follow your lead, and to take steps on my own with tools you have taught me and continue to teach. I love you.


Shayla on Centre Stage 

Based on Shayla’s Facebook post published on the evening of September 28

Read Katheren’s story
‘Katheren Szabo: The Heart of Newton’ by Zoë J. Dagneault

View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

..