British Columbia

Women don Muslim headscarves at 'Hijab for a Day' event

Seventy women in Prince George donned Muslim headscarves this week to experience 'Hijab for a Day'.

'It takes a lot of courage to wear it; You stand out'

Seventy women tried on a hijab Tuesday, as part of a 'Hijab for a Day' event at Prince George's University of Northern B.C. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

Seventy women in Prince George donned Muslim head scarves, most for the first time, as part of a 'hijab for a Day' event at the University of Northern B.C., in Prince George this week.

70 women don hijab for a day 

Students from the campus women's centre presided over a box of colourful scarves, offering women on their way to class a chance to wear a hijab around campus. 

"I'm not Muslim, but I just got a hijab put on me by another student," said Dara Campbell. "There's a lot of myths and false things that go around about what a hijab means. We should understand other women's choices." 

"I don't wear the hijab, but putting it on today, I felt super fierce," said Yousra Moutii, an environmental engineering student at UNBC, right, with Hira Rashid, left. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

The idea, said student organizer Hira Rashid, is to de-stigmatize and demystify the hijab and encourage people to ask questions.

Hijab 'a symbol of free expression'

"It's not just a piece of cloth. It's not a symbol of oppression," said Rashid, who used to wear hijab but no longer does. "It's a choice. It's a symbol of free expression."

Social work student Modupe Abioye tried on a head scarf before heading to class.

"It takes a lot of courage to wear it," said Abioye. "You stand out. People look at you. Some are brave to ask questions, [but] a lot of people are looking at me and looking away."

 "People shouldn't be judged for what they put on their head," said Abioye. "That shouldn't be any reason for people to hit you, judge you, give you some nasty words. Having it on doesn't make you a jihadist."

'It takes a lot of courage to wear it'

Beside the campus Tim Hortons, student Anna Saenz modelled her borrowed hijab for friends. 

"It's really cool," said Saenz. "The more you know about it, the less afraid you are of it." 

Maria Amir wears a hijab every day.Today, she enjoyed being one among many.

"In class, when you're the only person wearing it, it's a bit awkward. Especially now, when you get so much negative feedback in the media," said Amir. "But when you see so many people [in a hijab], it feels really good."

Hear the reactions from women trying a hijab for the first time.

For more stories from northern B.C. follow CBC Daybreak North on Facebook.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary and the Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Award. Based in Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.

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