Canadian Muslim filmmaker Nawaz to give Olin lecture

Zarqa Nawaz knows something about crossing cultures. Born in England to Pakistani immigrants, raised in Toronto and now living in Saskatchewan, the Muslim writer, producer and filmmaker will give the annual Olin Fellows lecture at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Graham Chapel. A panel discussion featuring Nawaz will continue the discussion from 2-4 p.m. in the Women’s Building Lounge.

Zarqa Nawaz

Through her films, screenplays, documentaries and the current Canadian hit television show “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” Nawaz uses wit to counteract negative stereotypes about Muslims.

“Little Mosque” is a comedy that follows the lives of Muslims in rural Canada and is designed, according to series creator Nawaz, to present ordinary Muslims in a new light and give her children a show depicting people who resemble them. The series debut in January 2007 drew the highest number of Canadian viewers for any CBC show.

Through her production company, Fundamentalist Films, Nawaz has created a trilogy of films with a deep satiric bent and a strong message. In “BBQ Muslims,” “Death Threat” and her first feature, “Real Terrorists Don’t Belly Dance,” she puts her naive protagonists into situations that get them into trouble because of societal stereotypes that view all Muslims as terrorists.

Nawaz received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ryerson University in 1992. Before becoming a filmmaker, she worked at CBC Radio, CBC Television and CTV.

Her radio documentary, “The Changing Rituals of Death,” won several Ontario Telefest awards. She is developing a new drama series for CBC called “Pray for Me.”

The lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information on this and other Assembly Series programs, visit or call 935-4620.