četvrtak, 10.11.2011.


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  • French name: Revolution tranquille a period during the 1960s in Quebec, marked by secularization, educational reforms, and rising support for separation from the rest of Canada

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Q&A: Sisters in a "Sweet Rush" to make music and help Somalis

Q&A: Sisters in a

Sisters Siham and Iman Hashi during their recent visit to UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva. They form the group "Sweet Rush".
UNHCR / S. Hopper / October 2010

Q&A: Sisters in a "Sweet Rush" to make music and help Somalis

GENEVA, November 2 (UNHCR) – Born in Mogadishu, Siham and Iman Hashi are the first female Somali artists to sign a record deal with a major American label. After the civil war broke out in Somalia in the 1990s, the girls and their family moved to Canada as refugees. They are currently in Los Angeles recording their first album as "Sweet Rush" with Universal Motown, while finding time to raise awareness about the continuing suffering in their homeland. The sisters discussed their lives and work recently with UNHCR Web Editor Leo Dobbs in Geneva, where they performed at the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your departure from Somalia

Siham: We were born in Somalia but we don't have many memories of it. Our mother was a Somali diplomat and we moved to Saudi Arabia. We stayed there for a year or two and then moved to Germany. When the civil war broke out [in 1991] we were resettled in Canada. When we came to Toronto [with their parents, two sisters and a brother], we had to learn English. We noticed that [in Toronto] we weren't really getting the things that we asked for anymore. Our parents tried their best. They sheltered us a lot and they never made us feel like we had nothing, even though we had to start all over again.

Toronto's a pretty cosmopolitan city. Did you ever face problems there?

Iman: We realised we were different when we were in middle school. I think before middle school, we just thought, "Okay, we're kids." Many people said things that went over our heads. But at middle school I realised, kids were going to ask, "Like, where are you from?" "I'm from Somalia." "You're from Somalia? That's where all the starving people are and the kids with the big stomachs and the orphans." I was like, "What! No. Somalia is beautiful, it's just going through stuff."

It was so hard. Kids are mean in middle school. That's when I realised that people thought, "Oh, so you're a refugee." And I was like, "How do you know that I'm not a refugee?" And then I heard my Mum say that we are. That's when I realised that we were different.

Where did the music come from?

Imam: We grew up in a very traditional and religious [Muslim] home. My Dad was very strict and he was worried about education and never encouraged music. But my Mum was more lenient and would let us play Whitney Houston and other popular music when we were younger, and we would sing. And she would say, "You girls can sing." The interesting thing is that my parents can sing too, but nobody really encouraged it in the house. So it was just us singing together all the time and at school and with our friends. We never took singing lessons. Training was all school based, like vocal class and the school play.

How did you make the next step?

Imam: We moved to Atlanta. It was a very difficult thing getting to Atlanta because our parents would say, "No, we want you to go to college and become doctors. That's why we brought you to this country. This is your opportunity to do great things." We were like, "We love school, school's always going to be there, but can we just pursue our passion." It was like a battle, back and forth.

But finally my Dad said okay and we moved to Atlanta because my Dad's sister lived there and he said, "I trust her, so you guys live with her." That's the only reason we were allowed to go there. We were just meeting people and recording in studios. It was really difficult. But then when we landed the record deal, it was like: "Oh, my gosh." Back home, my parents got a lot of [strife]. People aren't very happy about their decision to let us go because in the Somali culture and religion it's taboo.

So everybody was mad at my parents. The Somali community is very tightknit. Our parents didn't care and said, "We trust our daughters and this is what they want to do and we have to respect that." So we got the record deal and . . . people back home thought, "They're actually doing this." Now we're starting to work with these amazing producers and a lot of great things are happening.

Do you sing about refugees?

Imam: Yes, we have the song that we performed at the Nansen Awards, "Shelter." It does not talk specifically about shelter and refugees. But it was meant to be vague, so that anybody listening to it can feel like it's talking to them. Listen to the song – it can be talking about refugees.

And then, "Take me Home," of course. We wanted to write a song about Somalia, but we didn't want to leave anybody out. So anybody from any co

Canada. Toronto

Canada. Toronto

The building was constructed in 1892 by Richard Waite. It was designed in pinkish red sandstone with fine archways in the facade.

A fire in 1909 destroyed the west wing, that was reconstructed with Italian marble, while the east wing still shows the original wooden details.

Within the building is the parliament chamber, where political parties debate a wide range of issues including healthcare & education. From the visitor galleries above, you can view a session of the provincial parlimament.

There are numerous Legislative & Community exhibits found throughout the first floor hallways, mainly focusing on the history, culture heritage and parliament of Ontario. One historic gem here is Upper Canada's first mace, which was taken by American Troops during the 1812 war, and returned in 1934.

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