We Have Always Been Here
Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD) 284 - 100 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T 1W1
Co-presented with the Toronto Queer Film Festival (TQFF)
How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don’t exist? Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger. When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved. Moderated by Laila Malik, join Habib for a reading from her triumphant new memoir We Have Always Been Here.
Samra Habib is a writer, photographer, and activist. As a journalist she’s covered topics ranging from fashion trends and Muslim dating apps to the rise of Islamophobia in the US. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Advocate, and her photo project, “Just Me and Allah,” has been featured in Nylon, i-D, Vanity Fair Italia, Vice, and The Washington Post. She works with LGBTQ organizations internationally, raising awareness of issues that impact queer Muslims around the world. We Have Always Been Here is her first book.
Laila Malik is a diasporic desi writer in Adobigok, the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Métis, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Her poetry, essays and short fiction have been published in Contemporary Verse 2, Canthius, The New Quarterly, The Feminist Wire, Sukoon (Arab arts and literature), Ricepaper magazine, FOLD Festival of Literary Diversity and QWERTY (forthcoming). She is working on her first poetry collection, an exploration of love, bereavement and inter-generational migration across colonizations.