The Sisters Project is a series of images and stories of Muslim women across Canada doing extraordinary things in their daily lives. The project aims to counter negative stereotypes of Muslim women through sharing these stories. From the beautiful ordinary to the uniquely different, the project “counters voicelessness and lack of agency, and shows women in control of their lives”. The stories and faces shared in the project are multi-faceted, varied and deeply meaningful.

The mastermind behind the initiative is photographer Alia Youssef, who wanted to humanize Muslim women in the eyes of the public and show that they are an essential thread in the fabric of Canadian society. She aims to challenge the notion that Muslim women must fit into the generic mould that society expects or prescribes to them. MY Voice had the opportunity to correspond with Youssef and ask her a few questions:

  1. Why did you choose the medium of photography to tell these stories?

“I have been a photographer since I was 14 years old, and began doing portraiture around then too. Every project I do revolves around portrait photography. When I came up with the idea to create a project that diversifies the image of who Muslim women are, portrait photography made the most sense, not only because it’s the medium I love, but also because it’s a fantastic tool to tell stories and fight misrepresentation. Later on, I added other mediums to the project such as writing and video to enhance the message”.

 

  1. What have been some major challenges that you have faced during this journey?

“I wouldn’t say I’ve faced major challenges during this journey, but challenges I have faced include: getting funding, getting exhibitions, spreading the message and getting followers on instagram. I did overcome many of these obstacles eventually, but these were the definitely the causes of most roadblocks for me”.

 

  1. What message do you hope people take away from the project?

“I hope that people who view the project are inspired to keep their minds open, question their own preconceived ideas, and question the images that are shown about marginalized groups in the media. I also hope they read the features, and allow themselves to empathize and connect with the stories they read. I hope we all realize how much we have in common with each other, rather than dwell on differences”.

 

Fatima, 58, is a nature-lover who once hiked the 110 km Harvest moon trail in 6 days with a backpack. She lived in South Africa’s apartheid system and it made her realize the importance of “recognizing each other’s humanity.”

 

 

Adama is a 35-year old human rights educator who aims to use storytelling, arts, crafts and dancing to strengthen Black girls’ self-esteem and contribute to their social and academic success.

 

 

Saadia is a tackle and flag football coach and high school math teacher. She pursues her passions despite the fact that football isn’t a mainstream sport for Muslim and South Asian women. She aspires to serve as a role model and inspire young girls to pursue their athletic passions.