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Equity educators are often the ones in need of education 

Responding to “The struggles of a Muslim woman of colour in Halifax.”

click to enlarge Mary MacDonald is a a full-time Dalhousie University student. - THE COAST
  • Mary MacDonald is a a full-time Dalhousie University student.
  • The Coast

I am a Dalhousie student for whom Masuna Khan’s article evoked familiar themes. (“The struggle of a Muslim woman of colour in Halifax”). As a woman who uses a wheelchair, I too have experienced countless disappointments in Halifax when applying for jobs. After submitting resume after resume to employers who claim to “welcome applications from persons with disabilities” I learned to understand that these were meaningless phrases. Despite the fact that I earned an honours BA in international development studies and an MBA, employers who “welcomed my application” never responded. I asked myself if a woman with a disability even stood a chance of getting a job in Halifax.

I could relate to Masuna Khan’s experience of being stared at relentlessly. This happens to me not because of a hijab but a wheelchair. Ms. Khan’s experience of futile job searches and being the subject of stares are not unique. These things happen to women with disabilities in Halifax.

Masuna Khan next shares how she found a job at a fast-food restaurant—any person’s “worst nightmare,” she says. A hint of victimhood begins to creep in at this stage of her narrative.

I am doubtful that any credible equity coordinator would approve of the next jaw-dropper in Ms. Khan’s story: explaining why she accepted the fast-food job, she writes “as a student at Dalhousie with tuition that could cripple any able body I had no choice.” (Emphasis added.)

Let’s unpack her words. Earlier in the article, Ms. Khan makes it clear that Halifax is the only home she ever knew. That being said, she would certainly know the negative connotations of the word “cripple.” Most dictionaries describe it as an offensive word. Yet here she is, positing a cause and effect between Dalhousie’s tuition and its ability to “cripple any able body.” In her role as DSU outreach coordinator for Accessibility and Equity, does Masuna Khan assume a link between Dalhousie’s tuition and its purported ability to cause my disability?

Ms. Khan credits ReachAbility for giving her a chance at employment and practicing diversity and inclusivity along a spectrum of identities: LGBQ; mental health; abilities, targets of Islamophobia and others. This catch-all approach to diversity rests on the underlying assumption that all of these groups are oppressed and have a natural affinity for solidarity.

This line of reasoning contains a logical fallacy. I am a person with a disability who is just as likely to be discriminated against by members of my own gender, or by persons who belong to equity groups. Such equity-designated individuals are just as prone to use slurs against marginalized persons and even publish them. As Ms. Khan’s inappropriate comments demonstrate, those who think they are uniquely oppressed share more common experiences with others than they are prepared to admit. Her article also is a reminder that often the equity educators are in need of education. 


Voice of the City is a platform for any and all Halifax individuals to share their diverse opinions and writings. The Coast does not necessarily endorse the views of those published. Our editors reserve the right to alter submissions for clarity, length and style. Want to appear in this section? Submissions can be sent to


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