On January 26, 2023, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced the appointment of Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.
Islamophobia, discrimination, and hate, in any form, are unacceptable and have no place in this country. The Government of Canada stands with and supports Muslim communities across Canada and reaffirms its commitment to take action to denounce and tackle Islamophobia, hate-fuelled violence, and systemic discrimination whenever and wherever it occurs.
The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the appointment of Amira Elghawaby as Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia.
Ms. Elghawaby is an award-winning journalist and human rights advocate. A founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and past board member at the Silk Road Institute, she has had an extensive career supporting initiatives to counter hate and promote inclusion. She currently leads strategic communications and campaigns at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is a member of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group.
As Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Ms. Elghawaby will serve as a champion, advisor, expert, and representative to support and enhance the federal government’s efforts in the fight against Islamophobia, systemic racism, racial discrimination, and religious intolerance. She will promote awareness of the diverse and intersectional identities of Muslims in Canada and provide advice to the government in the development of inclusive policies, legislative proposals, programs, and regulations that reflect their realities. In so doing, she will also help advance respect for equity, inclusion, and diversity and shine a light on the important contributions of Muslims to our country’s national fabric.
Islamophobia is a lived experience for Muslim communities across the country and requires ongoing action. The Government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to fight hatred, racism, and discrimination. Together, we can build a better future for everyone.
“Diversity truly is one of Canada’s greatest strengths, but for many Muslims, Islamophobia is all too familiar. We need to change that. No one in our country should experience hatred because of their faith. The appointment of Ms. Elghawaby as Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia is an important step in our fight against Islamophobia and hatred in all its forms. I look forward to working with her as we continue building a country where everyone feels safe and respected.”
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“In Canada, diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. Our government has listened to the lived experiences of Muslim communities from across the country and is taking action in the fight against Islamophobia. As Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby will use her vast knowledge and experience as a human rights advocate to help guide and reinforce Canada’s efforts in addressing anti-Muslim hatred, systemic racism, racial discrimination, and religious intolerance. This appointment is a significant step toward building a safer and more inclusive Canada for all.”
The Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
As defined in Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, Islamophobia includes racism, stereotypes, prejudice, fear, or acts of hostility directed toward Muslims.
In July 2021, the Government of Canada hosted a virtual National Summit on Islamophobia, which helped identify ways for the government to better work with Muslim communities to implement anti-racism initiatives that specifically address Islamophobia and hate-fuelled violence. The appointment of a Special Representative was one of the recommendations put forward at the summit.
The application process for the new position of Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia was launched in June 2022. Ms. Elghawaby was appointed following an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process conducted for this Governor in Council position.
In 2021, January 29 was officially designated as the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia, a day to remember the victims of this tragedy, denounce Islamophobia and all other forms of racism, hate, and religious discrimination, and advance action to combat them.
The Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia serves as a champion, advisor, expert, and representative to the Canadian government, for the purpose of enhancing efforts to combat Islamophobia and promote awareness of the diverse and intersectional identities of Muslims in Canada.
The mandate for Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia is multifaceted and includes:
- Providing guidance and advice to support the Government of Canada’s efforts to combat Islamophobia in Canada;
- Providing advice to inform the development of policies, legislative proposals, programs and regulations that could affect Muslim Canadians;
- Providing guidance and advice to Ministers to inform and improve efforts to track and monitor incidences of anti-Muslim hatred and violence across Canada;
- Supporting efforts to address systemic racism and Islamophobia through public education and awareness;
- Promoting public awareness and understanding about Muslim communities in Canada by reframing narratives and combatting stereotypes, including highlighting diverse and intersectional Muslim identities through participation in commemorations and public events;
- Proactively engaging with diverse stakeholders in Canada, including all of the varied Muslim communities around the country and other stakeholders, to advance community-informed solutions, policies, and actions;
- Offering guidance to responsible Ministers to contribute to training, in support of national security agencies, and;
- Promoting Canada’s activities in combatting Islamophobia on official Government of Canada communication channels.
Amira Elghawaby is a journalist, an expert on issues of equity and inclusion, and a human rights advocate. A frequent media commentator, she has delivered keynote presentations and workshops to a wide variety of audiences.
Ms. Elghawaby currently works as Director of Strategic Communications and Campaigns at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and is a contributing columnist for the Toronto Star. Prior to this, she held communications roles in Canada’s labour movement and at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, where she helped promote the civil liberties of Canadian Muslims and worked on issues of human rights. She started her career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where she worked and freelanced as a reporter and associate producer over the span of 14 years.
Ms. Elghawaby has extensive experience supporting initiatives to counter hate and promote inclusion, including as a past founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and a past board member at the Silk Road Institute. She has served two terms as Commissioner on the Public Policy Forum’s Canadian Commission on Democratic Expression. She currently sits on the National Security Transparency Advisory Group, an independent, arms-length committee that advises the Deputy Minister of Public Safety.
Ms. Elghawaby holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Journalism and Law from Carleton University.