ONTARIO - Volunteering for community help decades ago, a Canadian Muslim in Ontario's city of Mississauga has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to acknowledge her passion to serve her country.
"Forty-five years of my Canadian life I have been serving the community," Malik Syed, who was awarded the medal on Friday, January 4, told Mississauga.com.
"When I came to Canada I didn't know I could do so much more in this community. This is a great country."
Coming to Canada decades ago, Syed, of Indian origin, tried to offer help to her new community.
Trained as a teacher in India, Syed worked for several years as a supply teacher in Ontario.
Later on, she volunteered with the Muslim Seniors Circle, which was present to see the medal presentation, and regularly visits hospitals to do what she can.
Yet, her greatest pleasure has always come from helping children.
She added that she has volunteered to serve not just the Muslim community, but the broader Canadian community.
These efforts were finally recognized after she received on Friday the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at the Islamic Centre of Canada on South Sheridan Way.
The medal was presented to the Mississauga resident of nearly 40 years by Senator Salma Ataullahjan, the first Canadian senator of Pushtun descent.
Receiving an award to recognize her efforts, Syed, 70, said her husband, Amjad Syed, was even happier for her than she was herself.
Created in 2011, the commemorative medal was made to mark the 60th anniversary of the accession to the thrones of Queen Elizabeth II.
The medal also serves to honor significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
Awarding Syed her distinguished medal, Mississauga Senator praised her efforts to serve the wider community, regardless of their faith.
"Malik has spent 45 years doing volunteer work in Canada," said Ataullahjan.
It is so appropriate she should receive the medal here in the Islamic Centre.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the North American country.
A recent survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Yet, a March 2012 survey by the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that more than half of Canadians distrust Muslims, the lowest level of trustworthiness of religious groups in the country.
Another recent survey by the Canadian Studies (ACS) found that the Muslim minority in Canada is still facing negative perceptions a decade after the 9/11.