It’s a routine trip for mother Nina Malik to meet her son outside of John Fraser Secondary School, with her daughter Maaham Malik, but when the pair arrived at the high school Friday, they noticed a group of people protesting out front.
“We saw a group of individuals and they were wearing T-shirts that said ‘Stop Islam, save humanity.’ They were holding different signs, and one of them was holding a Canadian flag,” Maaham said.
“They were saying racist things to people who were walking by — pedestrians, students — who are minors between Grade 9 and Grade 12 and my brother being one of them.”
Disturbed by the protest, Nina approached the group and took photos of the protesters.
“They said pretty racist things to [my mother]. Right to her face, saying, ‘Go back to your country’ and ‘You don’t belong here,’” Maaham said.
“It was not a good sight. It was upsetting for everyone.”
Nina moved to Canada from Pakistan over 25 years ago.
She is a Canadian citizen and her three children were born in Canada.
“We’ve been living here for 25 years. My kids were born here. It’s the best country in the world. I would never trade this country for anything in the world,” Nina said.
“I have never felt this way before … I was not in a good mood after that.”
Maaham posted the photos on social media and it has received over 1,300 shares.
Safwan Choudhry, a volunteer with the Ahmadiyya Muslim group, says similar incidents have been happening all over Canada, but he adds it is a small group of people who are pushing the message of Islamophobia.
“In my experience, the vast majority of Canadians don’t fear Muslims,” Choudhry said.
“It’s a fringe group that is trying to create divisions — it has given the spike in the hate crimes report … however, we firmly believe that hate comes from ignorance, and ignorance comes from a place of misunderstanding,” he added.
While the incident has left Nina and her daughter shaken, she said her love for Canada has not wavered.
“We love the country we live in,” Nina said.
“And it’s not like a group of 10 individuals gathering in front of a school can change opinions about all Canadians.”