Rana Zaman,Trailblazer and Halifax Hero

Picture Courtesy of the Internet

Picture Courtesy of the Internet

Rana Zaman, a Muslim woman from Pakistan, arrived in Canada at the age of 6.  After many years of service in her community, Rana is known as a Halifax Hero. Here is why?

Rana would say Canada has given her so many opportunities and she is blessed.

In the last few years, Rana has achieved more than she would have ever imagined and to the surprise of many, who doubted and thought it impossible or that she was incapable of doing the things she has done but to her own astonishment she has set precedence on more than one occasion.

Rana is not afraid to speak her mind or ask a difficult question. She has taken risks and faced as it were, "the elephant in the room.” so to speak. Rana would also say that confidence, braveness, is a work in progress with a long list of supporters behind her. Especially, her two close female friends who kept on at her relentlessly telling her how smart and gifted she is, and that she was capable achieving great things.

Rana would say, she did not believe in her herself but they inspired her. They were also among the first who pushed her towards politics and said, she had much to contribute. Rana did not sit on the advice and encouragement her friends gave her. She began to use her voice for others. She decided she wanted to leave a legacy and that would be to empower others and to leave no one behind. She began to seek opportunities to support those who were less fortunate, regardless of race. gender, religion or beliefs.  Such a stance was outside of the norm or what was expected of a Muslim woman of colour. Rana faced many, many challenges but she remained resolute, passionate and cared a great deal about social justice issues, food safety and food security in her community.

The goals Rana set for herself are bold and tenacious. Taking on the old traditions is unprecedented for a Muslim woman of colour. No challenge is too big for her, so when the call went out to support the Syrian Refugees, it was no surprise to find Rana in the thick of it. Rana got to work. She began organizing, calling on family, friends, colleagues, business owners, churches, mosques and other organizations to assist in one of Canada's largest humanitarian mission. In the end, Rana was responsible for the largest fundraiser in Nova Scotia for Syrian Refugees which was over $200,000 in sponsorships. At the fundraiser, she brought together groups from all different backgrounds by reaching out personally as well as going out to their places of worship to extend the invitation. As a result, she had a sold out event and was over capacity. There was representation from various faiths and backgrounds such as Hindu, Sikh, Christians, Quakers, Political parties and lastly Muslims (Sunni and Shia a remarkable achievement) and the Mosques. These are only a few examples of Rana's audacious and selfless acts.

She also empowers students in leadership roles at these events, which led to them receiving awards from Dalhousie University based on their academic and volunteer achievements. Hasmeet Singh was one of those who received the highest Governors award, Salman Malik was the other.

Rana's strength lies in her ability to, make things happen; a good negotiator and effective communicator.  She would gather people who are of opposing beliefs and faith in one room. These efforts remind us about the common thread that binds are our humanity and shared values for the benefit of others.  She arranged the very first two Pakistani Festivals in the history of Nova Scotia and approximately 1600 people attended.

In addition, Rana planned and hosted the very first community event during Ramadan for Syrians by joining the Pakistani Canadian Association of Nova Scotia and the Caring Human Association for ladies only event in honour of Syrian families. This was the first time Pakistani women and Arabic women came together to plan a large event with both cuisines to celebrate a Pakistani night called Chand Raat, these are to name but of few of the organizations, Rana is involved with. While researching this article, I found that there were organizations and people in Nova Scotia that I knew so very little about but Rana has broadened my perspective and given me insights into a new world.

Rana is energetic, and her laughter is infectious. Being in her company is inspirational. She is a phenomenal woman and the Dartmouth community is much brighter for having her as a leader in their community. Rana was also the entertainment organizer for the first Pakistani festival  and executive organizer for the second event. 

However, Rana's vision is not confined to Dartmouth or Nova Scotia. She won the confidence of the people in her community and beyond and that's why she was nominated as the National Democratic Party Candidate (NDP) for the Nova Scotia.

As you can imagine, Rana is proud of this honour. She was also given a community Award from the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration for her work through the Immigrant Settlement Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS).

It is unbelievable that one person could galvanize people so that they could share stories and build bridges. Rana has a true gift for the love of humanity. Rana wants us all to live in harmony and celebrate each other's differences, successes as well as learn together.

Rana would describe herself as a shy person but when we got together with the "Women Who Ran for Public Office" they were electrifying; the synergy was just astonishing.

We wish Rana every success in her quest to win that her seat. She knows she is up against popular and long established figures but she is not deterred. Rana is ready and with the support of everyone, she is hoping to win.