Where are you really from? Edmonton author unpacks that loaded question in new children's book
'Canada is beautiful, because we have different roots'
It may seem a simple query, but for some people the question has underlying tones of racism.
Edmonton author Samira Hamana recently wrote a kids' book entitled Where Are You Really From?
"Maybe we dress differently and maybe we have different looks. But at the end of the day, we are all Canadians and we stand up for one country," said Hamana, speaking recently on CBC's Radio Active.
The author said her book was inspired by recent attacks against Muslim women in Edmonton.
In the past year, Muslim women in the Edmonton area have reported at least seven hateful, unprovoked attacks in which they were screamed at, shoved or pushed to the ground.
"I am a strong believer that if we raise awareness and educate our children, we will limit the reproduction of racism and discrimination," said Hamana, who is Muslim.
It's through education and understanding, Hamana said, that people can fight racism.
"When the person has the knowledge that we are Canadian like him or her, it means that we are all the same."
Although Hamana admitted it's a big question for a children's book aimed at elementary students, she said the story is directed to address the curiosity of kids.
She also wrote the book partly for her own children, who have Moroccan and Somalian heritage.
It's important for Canadians to embrace diversity because it provides beauty and complexity, said Hamana.
She compared the country to the natural world and said nature is wondrous because of different flower colours, varying lakes, mismatching rivers and distinct animals.
"And that's why Canada is beautiful, because we have different roots."
More than 20 per cent of Canadians identify as a visible minority, according to Statistics Canada.
Hate crimes have been on the rise across the country. Last month, Montreal police released an annual report that suggested racially motivated crimes in 2020 increased by more than 50 per cent compared to the previous year.
This isn't the first time Hamana has written a children's story on a serious topic. Devastated by the news of a young Muslim child in Calgary dying by suicide, she published a book to help children and their parents fight bullying.
Hamana said she will contact schools and public libraries next year to stock her new book. If cost is an issue, she said the book will be provided to them for free.
Where Are You Really From? is available on Amazon.