“As immigrant communities become more prominent within Canadian society, there needs to be more outreach within those communities to bring more families into the foster-care movement,” states Shahzad Mustafa who is the director of FosterLink, a Muslim-Canadian advocacy group whose goal is to bring awareness to foster care. Thus far, the group has recruited 50 people who are interested in becoming foster parents.
Though there are no exact figures on how many Muslim children in Canada are in the foster system, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies said there is a great need for more Muslim caregivers. “We understand that when we take kids from one culture and put them in homes that are of a different culture, that is not in their best interest,” said Mahesh Prajapat, chief operating officer of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. “Identity is critical, but it’s not just identity. It’s the feeling that you are somewhere comfortable … from food … to customs.”
Reshma Niazi agrees and says that Islam teaches the importance of caring for your neighbors, something that foster parenting enables her to do. “You know in your heart that you’re purely doing this for the sake of the child, this isn’t about you anymore,” she said. “This is about giving back to the community, giving back to these children who just need temporary homes.”