Volume 12, Number 1 July 23, 2004

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DMT partners on video series aiming to demystify Canada’s Muslim community

By Michelle Boulton

Muslims make up one-fifth of the world’s population and, with 600,000 in Canada, they are this country’s largest non-Christian religious group.

Yet for many people in North America and elsewhere, the religion remains mysterious and misunderstood.

And since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Islam has been more than misunderstood – in some cases people have reacted to Muslims with fear, hostility and negative stereotyping.

The videos are airing on VisionTV and SCN.
The videos are airing on VisionTV and SCN.

In an attempt to demystify the lives of Muslim Canadians, the U of S Division of Media & Technology and Milo Productions Inc. have created a three-part video series called A New Life in a New Land: The Muslim Experience in Canada. The series provides an intimate examination of the diverse religious and cultural practices of this community.

“In general, Canadians are quite welcoming of other people,” says Michael Milo, creator of the series. “However, some people have some odd ideas about Muslims because of the message they get from the media. Sometimes you have to break down those barriers with people.”

Milo’s response to the negative stereotyping since Sept. 11 is anything but hostile. “We didn’t want to focus on the negative incidents in the series,” he says. “We tried to focus on everyday people and their daily lives.”

Milo says the Muslim community has contributed to the unique multiculturalism that has developed in Canada and which is one of the country’s strengths.

“The Muslim community in Canada is kind of a microcosm of the broader multiculturalism in the country. At any given mosque throughout the country, you might find up to 50 different ethnic and cultural groups that are all sharing community together. The videos try to celebrate that diversity,” he says.

Each video focuses on a specific topic. The first video, The Mosaic, looks at continuity and change in Canada’s Muslim community, from Confederation to the present. The second, In Faith and Practice, explores the religious foundations of the Muslim community. The third, A Warm Welcome - The Contribution of Muslims to Canadian Life, chronicles the lives of five individuals and their families living in Canada. Many featured in A New Life are recent immigrants, but the series also includes people who have lived in Canada for generations, and recent converts.

A launch for the Canadian premiere of the series was held on campus May 15.

The video series is being broadcast on VisionTV at 8:00 p.m. on July 15, 22 and 29.

It will also be broadcast on the Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN), the provincial educational network which helped to fund the series. SCN will air the first episode it at 10:00 p.m., July 27 and 3:00 p.m., July 28; episode two at 10:00 p.m., Aug. 3 and 3:00 p.m., Aug. 4; and episode three at 10:00 p.m., Aug. 10 and 3:00 p.m., Aug. 11.

In addition, other specialty channels, including the Canadian Learning Network, will broadcast the series later in the fall.

The producers also plan to market the video with its supplementary educational resources to post-secondary institutions and high schools, nationally and internationally. They also hope it will be used in other sectors like justice and social services.

This is the only educational multimedia package including a video series and a study guide on this topic currently available in Canada.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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