Fauzia Mazhar
Telephone # (519) 884-0000 ext. 263


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To enhance communication and foster understanding between Muslim women and the larger community, while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth, and leadership development for Muslim women.

Program Story

Illuminate Arts KW

Illuminate Arts KW has engaged over 100 local Muslim women from diverse background as project supervisors and coordinators, workshop coordinators, art educators, artists, volunteers, and participants. Countries of origin/ethnicity include Canada, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Kurdish, Iran, and Netherlands. Length of stay in Canada varied from 26 years to those who “just arrived.” The age range was between 12 and 50 years. For a vast majority of these women, Illuminate provided the first opportunity to engage in the larger community.

Partnerships are built with the KW Art Gallery, the Button Factory, THEMUSEUM, and Neruda Productions.

Illuminate has contributed to reducing the feeling of isolation, and foster smoother and quicker integration of newcomer Muslim women/young Muslim women by providing opportunities to showcase their art and artistic talents, helping them build connections with other artists and art organizations, expanding their networks, and increasing their knowledge about the art and culture sector.

“It is a blessing to be yourself and be proud of whom you are! This exhibition provides the opportunity to acknowledge my identity as a minority. At the same time, it feels great to share my passion of life with others through the universal language of art.” – Illuminate artist Ati Zar

Illuminate has helped young Muslim women and newcomer Muslim women artists to launch their career in arts and/or combine their passion for arts in other fields such as therapy and business.

“I had recently also started feeling that my art career was going nowhere, and this exhibition motivated me to keep going. Not only had my dreams of having an art exhibition come true but I finally feel like I’m progressing in the field of arts. My goal is to now work harder so that my next art piece is better than my last.” – Illuminate artist Zara Tariq

Many participants have reported increased self-esteem and a sense of belonging as a direct result of their participation in Illuminate Arts. Many have shared how the project has helped them develop their leadership and public speaking skills.

“This project has helped me grow in many ways on both a personal and professional level. On a personal level I was able to further develop my communication and leadership skills. By taking the role of a Project Coordinator as well as Curator for the first exhibition I was able to step outside my comfort zone and build on my transferable skills for my professional career. One of my greatest fears before going into this project was public speaking. Because of my involvement in this project, and the many meetings and connections that I had throughout, I have been able to tale the first few steps in allowing myself to overcome this fear. On a professional level, I would always try to figure out a way I would incorporate the arts within my career. I am currently a Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy student and would also try to figure out a way to include the arts within my practice. After taking on the role of Project Coordinator for Illuminate Arts, I realized the importance of art and how much of a different it can make in the lives of others. An individual can express themselves in many ways and what that self-expression looks like is different for everyone. Art is a form of creative self-expression, which allows us to understand who we are, and how we grow as individuals.” – Ala’ Al-thibeh, Project Coordinator

Illuminate Arts has diversified the local art and culture scene with a more visible female Muslim presence. The project has encouraged artists to look at opportunities like the Artist in Residence program at the City of Kitchener. We are currently considering how to provide support to our artists so that they can apply for this and other similar opportunities.

Donation Impact

We value all donations of time, talent and money.

  • A donation of $50 covers the cost of a woman to attend a leadership course
  • A donation of $50 covers the cost of childcare for a four hour meeting or training course
  • A donation of $100 covers the cost of purchasing an award to recognize an unsung hero

Giving Opportunity

Financial Donations

Initial funding for Illuminate Arts KW by The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation and the City of Waterloo has recently ended. This project has had such a great impact (see above) that terminating it with the end of funding does not look like an option. THEMUSEUM has invited the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW to make the art exhibition an annual event. We are also in conversation with the KW Art Gallery about the continuation of our partnership. The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW is in need of immediate financial support to keep the Illuminate Arts project going.

The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW is also a volunteer-run organization and all of our programs are offered free of charge, or at a nominal cost ($5 workshop registration fee which is waived for those who indicate their inability to pay). We rely on donations, corporate sponsorships, and grants to be able to provide our programs and services. We welcome your financial contributions of any amount and we invite you to support our important and one of a kind community program and services.

Donation cheques can be mailed to the following address: The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW, C/O KW Counselling Services, 480 Charles Street East, Kitchener, ON, N2G 4K5.

Gifts of Time/Skills

We rely on volunteers to be able to offer our programs and services. We actively welcome volunteers to assist with event planning and coordination, social media, graphic designing, and program delivery. Please contact for current volunteer opportunities.