August 9, 2020
By Kaitlyn Patience
Photos by Rick Di Lorenzo
My Voice is a GTA based magazine written, illustrated, designed, and edited solely by Muslim youth, offering them an opportunity to publish their thoughts and opinions. Milton’s My Voice founder (and only adult team member) Nargis Naqvi describes the venture as an opportunity for teens to “have an individual voice and be creative.” She expands, “In 2013 I realized that a lot of Muslim youth were lacking a connection with family and felt like their parents might not understand them.” The magazine was born when Naqvi held a meeting and told friends to send their teens aged 14-18.
My Voice Canada Magazine includes anonymous Q&A answered by experts, reflections on the Quran, personal essays, creative writing, discussions on healthy living and the environment, ongoing comics, and feature articles that consistently probe and challenge the readership. The magazine’s aim is to reach every Canadian, and its doors are open to all youth regardless of race or religion. The publication remains non-profit and distributes over 5000 copies each season. 7 years in, My Voice continues to be successful as some of its first writers and volunteers have now aged out (but continue to stay connected with the team in a mentor capacity). This year the program will expand to include theme-based online workshops with special guests that will cover issues such as the environment, fake news, and systemic racism.
The Aug 9, 2020 event was held outdoors at Bennet Park in Milton and celebrated the volunteers who contribute to My Voice. Despite a short torrential downpour just as the event was about to kick off, the night’s hosts and guests rallied to complete the program. This was no ordinary stodgy awards ceremony – the youths in charge worked hard to ensure guests were amused – including earnest joke-cracking MCs, an audience quiz motivated by prizes, and a life-sized tic tac toe. Amidst the fun, winners were announced. Milton winners included Editor in Chief Maha Siddiqui (Award of Excellence), Secretary Zayna Siddiqui (Cover Photo Photographer Award), writer, and illustrator Saif Khan (Creative Nonfiction Award), Head Editor Iman Qaiser (Event Champion Award), and Mentor Sabah Rajah (Writers Award).
The youth involved are deeply affected by My Voice experience. 19-year-old Zayna Siddiqui states: “It’s really important for Muslim youth to feel a part of the community, and to have a place to unleash their creativity.” Talented 16-year-old illustrator Saif Khan, who joined the team through an online application says, “My Voice has been two things for me – a platform for me to express myself, and a great learning experience.”