The Sisters Project combats negative stereotypes of Muslim women by showcasing the diverse stories of inspirational women across Canada, while also creating a space of inclusion and belonging for all self-identifying Muslim women to embrace and celebrate their unique identities

Created by Alia Youssef



“To be successful, you need to learn to give. Give your time, give your money. You cannot be successful without giving back to the community, without doing your part.” Fatema (her friends call her Phatty) is not only a lawyer but an active board member of three organizations (talk about a side hustle!) including SMILE Canada, a non-profit that supports kids with disabilities in the community. Fatema told me, “It’s such a necessary and important organization that works with a community that is often forgotten.” The other organizations Fatema is a part of are the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association - two organizations that  advance the legal rights and interests of Muslim lawyers and female Muslim lawyers. When Fatema is not changing the world, she loves bollywood dancing, travelling, eating cookies, and “trolling my husband.  It’s honestly the best thing ever.” When I asked Fatema if she feels visibly muslim she responded, “When I’m walking down the street, I don’t feel like I am visibly muslim in comparison to those women who wear a hijab.  But maybe I’m naive in that sense - I grew up in Kitchener, Waterloo and never once felt that people judged me - when people meet me I like to think they are not looking at the colour of my skin or guessing what faith/background I come from and instead just see me as “Fatema”. I’m sure looking at me they would never guess that my parents are from Zanzibar, Tanzania, or that I love listening to Ghazals and Coke Studio, or that I'm a civil litigator for the last 8 years, or that my husband is the cook in the house, or that I’m Sushi (half shia/ half sunni.”

Q&A Feature:

Where is your favourite place to find yourself?

I love to travel, so I would love to find myself in a different country roaming the streets, interacting with strangers, and getting lost exploring the world.

What is your favourite quality about yourself?

I am very easy going.  Life is too short. I like to lead a drama-free life and save my stress for when it is required. 

What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?

I like to think I cook thrice a year. Anniversary, husband’s birthday, and one bonus. 

Why did you choose the location you did for the photoshoot?

We recently returned to Toronto and decided to try living in the east side of downtown. Neither of us have lived there before. There is a very unique diversity in downtown east, a mix of cultures, income brackets, languages, but also a lot of history (like St. Lawrence Market). 

Check out www.smilecan.org for more information on SMILE Canada