Faculty of Education profile: Amazing alumna Saira Rahman
M.Ed. graduate now successful filmmaker who achieved success with Letter to a Terrorist film after Paris attacks
Many Faculty of Education graduates go on to work in fields other than classroom teaching. Below is a profile of a recent master of education graduate who is now a successful filmmaker:
Saira Rahman is an independent filmmaker based in Winnipeg. In 2010, she and her sister, Nilufer, established Snow Angel Films to support their first feature documentary film, Arctic Mosque, a story about a mosque that travels to the Arctic to become the most northern mosque in the Western Hemisphere, broadcast nationwide on CBC and APTN in 2014.
The pair travelled to Sweden and Norway last year on a screening tour for Arctic Mosque– invited by both Canadian Embassies, and the film was broadcast on SVT (Sweden’s “CBC”) last fall.
However, before entering the world of filmmaking, Saira was a teacher and principal She received both a B.Ed. (1996) and M.Ed. (Educational Administration; 2001), and helped found two private schools – Alhijra Islamic School (1996) in Winnipeg, and Olive Grove School (2006) in Mississauga, Ontario.
Between 2000-2003, Saira was part of a cultural advisory committee to review the Curriculum Framework for Social Studies, Kindergarten – Grade 9, participated on the writing team for the Manitoba Framework of Outcomes for Social Studies K to Grade 8, and took part in the review of resource materials for the new Social Studies framework. These projects were initiated and funded by the Province of Manitoba, Department of Education and Youth.
Her gradual transition from education to filmmaking started in 2003, when she was invited by producer friends, to write a three-part documentary series about Muslim Canadians called A New Life in a New Land, which aired across Canada on Vision TV in 2005. She also wrote the accompanying Teacher’s Guide.
Today, through their films, Saira and her sister, Nilufer, strive “to tell compelling stories through diverse voices that encourage constructive conversations toward shaping a more sustainable and compassionate world”. Their short art film shot this past winter, Letter to a Terrorist, was made in response to the recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere, and received over 60,000 views on social media within the first two weeks.