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Q1. Why are we celebrating Islamic Heritage Month?

As a publicly-elected body representing all citizens of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board officially recognizes a number of History/Heritage Months for specific cultural groups and/or occasions of special cultural significance. This designation of a History/Heritage Month is similar to a Proclamation issued by the City or the Province, and most are celebrated concurrently. Such months provide additional tools to support equitable and inclusive teaching and learning practices in every classroom, and support all schools in achieving their equity goals. (Please refer to the TDSB Guidelines for Planning Celebrations in Recognition of TDSB History/Heritage Months). Cultural and creed-based heritage months have now become a regular feature of the celebration of diversity within Canada. The Federal Government of Canada and the Provincial Government of Ontario have both made proclamations to celebrate specific History/Heritage Months over the years. The Toronto District School Board has also made similar proclamations, and Islamic Heritage Month was added in 2016, joining Sikh Heritage Month (April) and Jewish Heritage Month (May) and Hindu Heritage Month (November) as creed-based heritage months.

Q2. When was IHM proclaimed federally and provincially?

In 2007, the Federal government of Canada proclaimed October as Islamic History Month. In 2016, the Provincial government of Ontario proclaimed October as Islamic Heritage Month pursuant to the Islamic Heritage Month Act, S.O. 2016, c. 20 It was the 4th addition to creed based heritage months, which, to date, include Sikh, Hindu, and Jewish heritage months.

Q3. Does my school have to do something for IHM?

The Toronto District School Board’s core commitment is to improve well-being and achievement for all our students through engaging, equitable learning environments, inclusive curriculum and culturally rich learning opportunities. The board is also committed to ensuring that all students and staff gain knowledge and appreciation of the heritages, histories and achievements of the Board’s many diverse communities. Under the Integrated Equity Framework, this work would not be limited to designated History/Heritage Months. Rather, the goal is to embed this learning within every classroom, across the curriculum, and throughout the school year.

Q4. What is the overall theme of IHM?

The overall theme of IHM is “Reflect. Celebrate. Learn.” The theme was identified from the provincial IHM proclamation, with the ultimate goal being that this new understanding will help combat Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment that has, unfortunately, been on the rise across Canada.

Q5. Do we have to follow only what is in the IHM Resource Guidebook?

No. The IHM Resource Guidebook is not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive, but rather a selected representation of significant resources as a starting point for educators. It is also not intended to inhibit the creativity of our educational professionals. There are many other things that can be done to celebrate IHM, including displays, student murals, school/community events which highlight food from different regions, field trips to Toronto museums that have an Islamic art collection, student video competitions, and so much more. Make it fun!

Q6. Should the number of Muslim children in the school have an impact on the level of participation?

No. This month and these resources are intended to be a fun way for all students to reflect, celebrate, and learn about IHM and contributions by Muslims to our society. The self-contained materials enable teachers and administrators to incorporate exercises without having to seek further assistance or support.

Q7. Am I supposed to teach students about Islam?

No. This month (similar to other creed and cultural heritage months) is about learning the heritage and contributions of the Muslim community to Canadian society and celebrating diversity. The “Basic Beliefs and Practices: An Educator’s Primer” (Section 1.0) is one of many resources available to our staff to provide them with an understanding of Islam and to get a better understanding of Muslim students in their classrooms.

Q8. Can parents participate or support activities?

Yes. The TDSB welcomes parent engagement and volunteerism. Like most TDSB initiatives, any parent involvement would have to be approved by the school principal. If a school decides to organize an IHM community event, it would be under the discretion of the school principal.