Hear Me Now Film Festival


A HOPE for Youth Program – screening digital stories created by local Muslim Youth ages 12-18

On Saturday September 9, HOPE for Youth in collaboration with the Social Wellness Foundation and to mark Canada’s 150th held the Hear Me Now film festival at Shadbolt Centre for Arts in Burnaby. The festival showcased films and performances by local Muslim Youth aged 12 to 26. Over the summer, participants developed and honed digital storytelling skills through a ten-session workshop developed by Deepak Gill of the Social Wellness Foundation, and created short video narratives of their lives.

Storytelling is a powerful tool which connects people across all generations. Digital storytelling is something new; it allows the storyteller to share using imagery, sound, video clips and the most influential piece – their voice. Workshop attendees brought forward deeply impactful films on a range of topics that held significance in their lives; from stories on coming to Canada, surviving cancer, social media pressures, to creating awareness about mental health, their films left the audience moved to tears. The festival organizers also invited local artists, performers and personalities to share their talents. Hamza Ahmad, founder of the Journal for Muslims, Sumaiya Tufail, spoken word artist known as Sumispeaks, and Nawid Niazi, photographer, used rap, spoken word, speeches and video to shed light on topics ranging from bullying to empowerment and artistic expression. Also in attendance was Philipa Shauna-Dutt, Miss Fraser Valley 2017, who spoke on being confident in one’s abilities and how everyone has the ability to change the world.

The Film Festival was very well received by the community, with over 150 people in attendance. The night started off with a recitation of the Quran, followed by a unique rendition of “O Canada” in Arabic by Seemi Ghazi, a lecturer in Classical Arabic at the University of British Columbia. The festival hosts for the evening, Kabir Qurban and Nidha Yaqub, welcomed everyone and acknowledged First Nations territory before inviting Azim Dahya, Director of the Muslim Food Bank and Community Services Society (MFBCS) to the stage for a brief overview of the parent organization that made the event possible. This was followed by introductions to the various programs MFBCS supports including: HOPE for Youth: Mental Health and Substance Use Support, Summer School, Digital Storytelling, Community Capacity Building, Youth Tutoring, Breathing Room and Sports Programs.

The event also exhibited poetry by anonymous submissions and artwork by three local artists – Nidha Yaqub, Fatima Ahmed and Katarina Thorsen, the latter two generously donating their artwork for silent auction.

All storytellers received certificates from MFBCS, while Ms. Gill presented one of the students, Obayda Tayeh, with a $250 scholarship for his efforts throughout the digital storytelling program.

The night ended with a prayer, tears, laughter and a sense of hope.

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between SurreyCares Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Source: Alliance 150