The Rivers of Hope Core Team is a grassroots group of educators and artists. Together, we run all project operations and develop workshop content.
Niya Abdullahi (she/her)
Director of Outreach
Niya is the founder of Habasooda, a media organization dedicated to highlighting the diversity of the Muslim experience. Habasooda's posts have gone viral and powerfully illustrate intersecting oppressions that Muslims face.
Niya is also a Business Technology Management Co-op student and minors in entrepreneurship at Ryerson University. She is well versed in the private sector, previously working at TD Canada Trust and CIBC.
Niya joined Rivers of Hope as a workshop facilitator and loves the feeling of making a positive impact in GTA schools. Her goal is to educate the public about the realities of racism and Islamophobia and the adversities that marginalized Canadians face.
Sidrah Ahmad-Chan (she/her)
Director of Rivers of Hope
Sidrah is a researcher, writer and educator. Her groundbreaking M.A. research study on Islamophobic violence against Muslim women in the Greater Toronto Area was published in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence and profiled by the Toronto Star. Sidrah is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she is studying the intersection of gendered violence and Islamophobia. She has guest lectured on gendered Islamophobia at universities across Canada.
Sidrah's writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Broadview, and other outlets. Her piece The Exhaustion of Empowerment, published through This Magazine, has been read thousands of times around the world.
Bilal Baig (they/them)
Director of Artistic Development
Bilal is a queer, trans-feminine, muslim playwright and workshop facilitator. Bilal's first play, Acha Bacha, was co-produced by Theatre Passe Muraille and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and has been published by Playwrights Canada Press.
Other written work in development includes: Kainchee Lagaa, Kitne Saare Laloo Yahan Pey Hain, and I want that free mind!
Bilal is a core team member at non-profits such as Story Planet and Rivers of Hope, where they develop and facilitate workshops for youth focused on creative writing and literacy (Story Planet) and anti-Islamophobia (Rivers of Hope).
Naeema Hassan (she/her)
Director of Administration
Naeema is currently pursuring her Master's in Public Administration at Queen's University. She is a community organizer, former City of Toronto staff, and youth mentor.
Naeema has been appointed to be on the Toronto Youth Cabinet executive team at city hall and recently was part of the first ever provincial youth cabinet at Queen's Park.
Naeema was presented with the Youth Leadership Award In 2018 for her extensive community volunteer-based initiatives.
Sameh Helmy (he/him)
Sameh is a community organizer and educator. He co-facilitated a presentation on Islamophobia in school at the Faculty of Education Summer Institute in 2017 at York University to an audience of teachers and educators. He worked with two organizers in Hamilton on bringing a commemoration for the victims of the Quebec mosque shootings in Hamilton, which was held at city hall. Sameh also wrote a piece on the roots of Islamophobia, which was published in the Hamilton Spectator.
In addition to his work on challenging Islamophobia, Sameh was a Youth Reconciliation member with Canadian Roots Exchange working to develop and facilitate workshops that brought Indigenous and settler youth together, as well as bringing experiential workshops on Indigenous sovereignty to Muslim organizations.
Zainab Siddiqi (she/her)
Art Showcase Director
Zainab is an educator and activist based in Mississauga.
She has worked along with the National Council of Canadian Muslims as well as the York Region District School Board to create a series of videos about Islamophobia in high schools.
Zainab also spoke at the York Region District School Board's Ring of Peace ceremony to address issues of Islamophobia within the school board.
Zainab has experience in engaging youth in arts-based education and self-expression, and will be leading Rivers of Hope's Art Showcase for High School youth.
Aima Warriach (she/her)
Director of Social Media & Graphic Design
Aima’s motto is "Empowered women, empower women". She is currently a digital media student at Ryerson University. Her past work includes artist and graphic designer freelance work through MuslimGirl, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and other organizations.
Aima is known as @Niqabaechronicles on Instagram media. Many of her posts about gendered Islamophobia have gone viral, and changed the conversation about Muslim women.
Aima was the winner of the TEDxTeen Project’s 1324+Adobe Dialogue for Change competition, and a finalist for Artist of the Year at MaxGala.