Hamasa’s story: the courage to be Canadian

Hamasa’s story: the courage to be CanadianHamasa Durrani always felt a little “different” than her brothers and sisters.

Of nine children, she is number five—the middle child. Growing up in Islamabad, Pakistan in an Afghan family, Hamasa was the only one with green eyes, the only one with a pale complexion. A self-described comedian and tomboy (nicknamed “Ahmad” by her brothers), she also has a gregariousness that is rare among girls raised in a strict, Muslim culture.

“I always wanted to speak up,” she says. “I always wanted to talk about justice.”

It was in high school that Hamasa began to write about the rights of women and girls in the Middle East. With the secret encouragement of her mother and two teachers, Hamasa’s works were soon getting published to underground websites and winning international awards.

Then, in 2013, when Hamasa was in her early 20s, her family’s immigration application to Canada was approved after a 10-year wait. In an instant, they plunged into an unknown culture, environment and language.

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