Events / Fundraisers / Health / News / Ryerson / Solidarity and Sisterhood

Pink Hijab Day

Image Courtesy of Ryerson MSA via Facebook

Sameera Raja
Female students, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike, were adorned in a pink hijab on Oct. 30 for the third annual Pink Hijab Day at Ryerson University. Hosted by the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), the event raised awareness about breast cancer and promoted multi-faith collaboration on campus.

“Pink Hijab Day is held by the Ryerson MSA to accomplish two goals: to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer. [And] to better explain the concept of the hijab to society and address any misconceptions,” said MSA event coordinator Sarah Baker.

Members of MSA formed a pink-themed booth outside the Student Centre, which included activities for all students to participate in. Pink Hijab Day ranged from trivia games about the headscarf, information about Islam and famous Muslim women and breast cancer research. The booth also had a “how to wear a hijab” workshop, led by female organizers.

To help raise money for breast cancer research, the MSA also held a bake sale and sold stuffed toys and headscarves. “We  gave out free ribbons, informational flyers and pamphlets, and collected donations,” says Baker. “ All proceeds went to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.”

Maggie el-Timany, a politics and governance student, of Druze faith, stopped by the booth for a quick picture.  “I like how all the ethnic and religious groups take initiative to raise awareness collectively, and helps raise more money, [creating] a more unified relationship between students,” she said.

October has been known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, founded by the American Cancer Society in 1985. Since then, organizations, campaigns and marathons have been put together to encourage early detection through mammography and treatment across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 1.38 million cases of breast cancer, and 458,000 related deaths each year. The Breast Cancer Society of Canada reports up to 65 women (on average) are diagnosed with breast cancer daily, and the disease is most common in women aged 50 and over. The causes are still unknown, but with advanced screening and treatment, women are able to lead longer lives.

Founded by Missouri high school student, Hend el-Buri, Pink Hijab Day has been a global initiative since 2011. El-Buri started the movement as a way to engage participants — of all faiths — in conversation about the hijab, society and promoting a healthier community, both physically and mentally. Baker says the MSA collected pledges from students and staff for their involvement with breast cancer awareness next year.

Although breast cancer may be rare in men (making up less than 1 per cent of all breast cancer cases), the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) reports that 200 men have been diagnosed in 2012.

Male members of MSA also showed their support by wearing pink ribbons, or tying pink scarves around their necks.

“Men were encouraged to stop by and learn more about the hijab and breast cancer, as it affects everyone- men included,” said Baker.

The CBCF stated that Canada raised $27 million in 66 communities to support breast cancer research, since Wednesday.

Pink Hijab Day at Ryerson ended with a total of $200 donations.

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