14 & MuslimFollow three Muslim teens as they take their first tentative steps towards adulthood in Canadian high schools. NOW STREAMING ON CBC GEM
14 & Muslim follows Sahar, Malaieka and Ahmad as they transition from a private, Islamic elementary school into high school, capturing what it means to be young, Muslim and growing up in the West at this unsettling time in modern history.
Shot over six months, we follow our kids in both their primary school and high school as they navigate new worlds and go from being children to young adults. Will they and their family choose the familiar — though some might say insular — confines of Islamic High School? Or will they opt for a public or even Catholic high school and enter a new, less familiar world?
By the end of grade 8, a child is 13 or 14. If a boy, his voice is close to dropping, if a girl, she likely just got her period — it’s a time of tremendous emotional, physical and psychological upheaval. Now imagine that on top of all this you’re a child from a culture that the world associates with terrorism and violence. Most of the public images you see of other Muslims reflect a stereotype that you feel little connection to — the fundamentalist, the victim of war or the refugee fleeing war & terror.
In the short time since Donald Trump has been President, the anti-Muslim rhetoric has grown exponentially. And in Canada, we are far from immune — we’ve witnessed the devastating massacre in Quebec City, anti-Muslim rallies in downtown Toronto and the targeting of Mosques and Muslim community centres in the GTA and beyond.
It’s hard enough to be a young teenager, feeling self-conscious about how you look or what others think of you and for these kids they also have to deal with being singled out because of their religion. They wake up far too often to the news that Muslims have been targeted in Canada or other parts of the world, that people are protesting against Islamic prayers in front of public schools and mosques in the city they call home, or that ISIS has taken responsibility for another deadly attack.
Through the wide eyes of those still forming what it means to be a person in the world, we begin to understand the dilemma facing many Muslim kids. As they take us on their journey revealing fears, anxieties, hopes and dreams, their story moves from the familiar to the strange, from the known to the unknown and unfolds against a broader backdrop — that of a western world that seems to be increasingly turning against them. Up-close and personal, 14 & Muslim looks at how ideas of diversity and tolerance play out in the Canadian classroom.