“You can not control others; you can only control how you respond to others.”
Lila is 40 and a police officer specializing in race relations in Ottawa. Her proudest moment is when she became a police officer, telling me: “I knew at a young age that it was what I wanted to do and I worked toward that goal until I achieved it. I never knew that I would be the first Arabic speaking Muslim woman to be hired in Ottawa.” Lila has made a large impact on her community and within the police service. Being the only Muslim woman in the Ottawa police force for over a decade, Lila wanted to encourage more Muslim women to apply by revising the uniform policy to include uniform hijab. Since she has made a formal request, the Ottawa Police is now successfully working towards including hijab in their uniform. Her favourite quality about herself is how positive she is. She told me, “I always look at the glass half full, or I try to.” When Lila is not working in her community, or taking care of her two young children, she loves to play sports, mostly basketball or volleyball. Athletics have always been important to Lila’s life. She shared with me that in her youth she won a bronze medal at the Canada Winter Games for weightlifting, representing Alberta (where she grew up). When I asked Lila what her biggest hope is she told me, “I would say that I hope my children grow up happy and healthy…in a broader context, I hope that our Indigenous people receive the reconciliation and peace they so rightly deserve.“
How do you want to be perceived?
"As a strong Muslim woman who breaks stereotypes and as a role model to the younger generation of girls who want to be police officers."
What has been the most challenging experience of your life and why?
"Moving from Edmonton to Ottawa. It is hard to leave family behind and go out of your comfort zone. It was not an easy decision to leave the city I knew my entire life, all my friends and venture on a new path to follow my heart and my dream."