“I am known by many people in the Muslim Community and the Justice seeking local agencies, as I have spoken at events on the subject of mental illness and incarceration. Living in Ottawa one cannot help but be politically engaged.”
Farhat retired from the Canada Post 10 years ago, and since then has been an active member, and now Chapter-lead, of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. She is also a co-founder of a women’s support group, Mothers Offering Mutual Support (“MOMS”), who have a loved one in the Criminal Justice system. Co-founding this support group was born from the most challenging experience of her life, which was when her son was incarcerated. She told me, “My son during his teens became detached and felt alienated from his social circles. This was like a bolt of lightning that life does not prepare you for. He continued to struggle with his depression and subsequent OCD symptoms. With periods in and out of hospital, and on various prescription drugs for depression he committed a crime. As a result of this serious crime he has been incarcerated. All these years without him have been very hard, and every day I yearn to see him out of prison.” What’s most important to Farhat is keeping regular contact with her family and friends. She added, “I feel this is what gives our lives meaning… to have your loved ones be close to your heart, even if you are living far apart.” When I asked Farhat what a fun-fact about her she told me, “I would love to act in a drama of some sort. I have mentioned to friends, and dreamed of having a drama group where we can teach using theatre. But it has remained a dream, as I hear of others going ahead and doing it. One day Insha’Allah I keep hoping someone can cast me in their play. It will have to be an old aunt or something now!!”
What is your favourite hobby or pastime?
"I am restlessly attracted to different things at different times. I love to paint using water colours. If the mood strikes, I will turn to sewing and made myself some pyjamas!! Sometimes, I will knit or crochet some indoor slippers with yarn. Recently, my daughter and I like to read Urdu poetry. I translate it for her and it has been very fulfilling to be able to read and understand Urdu poetry. I love to plant flowers and some basic vegetables every spring in my small backyard."
How do you want to be perceived?
"I want to be perceived as a genuinely caring person, who speaks her truth, and who can be counted on to do her best for you."