Meet Salima Ebrahim, Executive Director of Banff Forum - read what Salima has to say on leadership, motherhood and more!
Give us your “elevator speech” – a snapshot of who you are, what you do, and how we should “know” you. Please tell us about the path you took to get where you are today:
So instead of an elevator speech I’ll give you my twitter speech! Executive Director of the Banff Forum, one of Canada’s pre-eminent public policy forums in which a diverse group of young Canadian leaders come together to debate key issues to build a stronger and better Canada. Proud mom, wife and outdoor enthusiast. City builder. Living on Treaty 6 land.
Besides your daily work, what are you passionate about?
My daughters, spending time with family, contributing to creating a better civil society, and city building.
What does being a “Canadian Muslim woman mean to you? I think these 2 identities are fluid for me.
I don’t separate being a Muslim from being a Canadian- the values imparted in each are synonymous with who I am and how I try and lead my life. As a Muslim women born and raised in Canada I feel I have a duty to use my skills and knowledge to help ensure that everyone in our great country can benefit from what it has to offer and conversely, and as a Canadian woman I feel it’s my responsibility to live my life in an ethical way that is rooted in my Muslim upbringing. I feel strongly that as Muslims in Canada we need to have an understanding of both the rights and responsibilities that come with being in this great country. Case in point- I’ve taught my 3 year old how to sing the Canadian anthem!
For young Muslim women growing up in North America what 1 – 3 things are most critical for them to be aware of? What advice would you give to other young Muslim women?
1. Don’t sell yourself short- you are capable of great things if you are willing to put in the work and effort. And start this at a young age! I’m a big believer in using your 20’s to lay the foundation for the rest of your life.
2. Relationships matter- I’ve had the opportunity to live in over 8 cities and although the world seems big it’s actually quite small. Be nice to people and the world will return that back to you!
3. Think outside of the box- people who know me wouldn’t describe me as a conformist and I take this as a compliment. Colour outside the lines of what is expected of you and take some time to really think about what you expect of yourself. Challenge yourself and take risks. They usually end up being worth it (and if not, you’ll at least have a good story to tell).
Please share 1 – 3 dreams/ goals you hope to achieve in the future. What can be changed to make the world a better place? How can we contribute?
a) Create a world where violence against women is eradicated. I know this is a lofty goal but it’s a necessary one. To live in fear of violence is one of the worst things a person could go through, leaving behind psychological, emotional and physical scars. I’ve recently joined the board of WIN House, a non-profit agency operating three shelters in Edmonton, with the goal to hopefully make a dent in this issue at the local level. The work that the national board of CCMW has done on this issue over the year is to be commended and we need more voices, particularly at the political level, not only saying this is wrong but dedicating resources to help solve the issue.
b) Youth poverty- there is something fundamentally wrong with children living in poverty. I hope that during the course of my lifetime I can do something to help eradicate this. I am currently leading a program with the Edmonton Public Library where 100% of the proceeds go towards their Welcome Baby program, which provides families with early literacy resources, one of the key indicators of alleviating poverty. The first word of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet PBUH was ‘read’ and as a Canadian Muslim this is one example of how my 2 identities come together for the betterment of society.
What “rules” do you live by? What is your personal motto or mission statement? These are less rules and more core values but everything I do- personal and professional- needs to align with these 6 things: authenticity, impact, self-care, connectedness, gratitude, and personal power.
How do you get balance in your life? Turn off my phone, take an afternoon off and spend it with my kids. There’s really nothing like spending some time with a 3 year old and 17 month old to bring back perspective. I also exercise- a bike ride, a walk, whatever gets you out and moving.
If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you want with you? OR What is your secret indulgence? (Serious responses are not expected!)
My Netflix account! I can totally binge watch anything slightly political or with good character development: House of Cards, The Good Wife, , etc….