“To half the people who know me I am regarded as a helpful and good resource but to the other half as a (friendly) trouble maker.”
Shahla is a lawyer, activist, mother of three, and co-founder of Universalist Muslims-- a not for profit that advocates for “universal human rights including LGBTQ and women’s rights inside and outside the mosque, while speaking out against Islamophobia.” Her focus has been on family law since receiving her Call to the Bar in Manitoba in 1992. This led to lobbying as a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim women in 2004 against faith based family law arbitration in Ontario which she felt was inherently unfair to marginalized Muslim women who didn’t have access to lawyers. Since then she has been actively serving the community. When she’s not working in consulting, private practice, or volunteering, she’s also a regular blogger for Huffington Post Canada, which allows her to share her views, which are not regularly depicted in mainstream media. At age 50, Shahla cares strongly about creating greater understanding between different cultures and faiths and in turn making the world a better place for the next generation. When I asked Shahla if she feels visibly Muslim she began with, “No but I am audibly Muslim and can't shut up about it.” But then continued to say, “Having darker skin and a funny sounding name meant that in the sixth and seventh grades, racist slurs were directed at me by bullies almost every day. It changed my life and the way I see the world. I have also experienced subtle racism – the kind that makes well-meaning white people say ‘are you sure you aren’t overreacting?’”
What makes you laugh so much it hurts?
"My kids are hilarious. So are my parents. Basically I make fun of everyone, including myself."
Where is your favourite place to find yourself?
"Outdoors, lying on the beach, listening to the waves and feeling the hot sun on my skin. Life is beautiful."
What is your favourite quality about yourself?
"My desire to help people."