Terrorist’s son advocates peace at community breakfast


Zak Ebrahim, author of The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, shared his life experiences at the YMCA of Oakville’s Community Breakfast for Peace.


“No matter the level of violence you’ve been exposed to it doesn’t have to define your character. All of us have the ability to change our path.”

This was one of the main messages Zak Ebrahim conveyed to the audience during the sold-out YMCA of Oakville Community Breakfast for Peace at the Oakville Conference Centre on Nov. 19.

Although Ebrahim’s father was a terrorist who killed the leader of the Jewish Defense League and helped plan the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, he promotes peace and non-violence.

“I’m not my father and with that simple fact I stand here as proof that violence isn’t inherent in one’s religion or race and a son does not have to follow the ways of his father,” said Ebrahim.

“I was seven-years-old when my father went to prison and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish he chose a peaceful life with his family. Instead he exposed me from a very early age to the intolerance and radical nature of extremism.”

Ebrahim, the author of The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, was the keynote speaker at the YMCA’s event, which was a part of their annual Peace Week.

Here’s a timeline of his story.

“As we do each year, we dedicate this time to exploring the power of peace and how we can all take action to create a kinder more peaceful community and world,” said Kyle Barber, president and CEO of YMCA of Oakville.

During the breakfast, the YMCA also recognizes a youth, adult and group in their community who have done significant things to help others, by awarding them with the YMCA Peace Medallion.

According to Barber, 115 YMCA Peace Medallions will be given out to peacemakers across Canada during Peace Week.

Aiza Abid, a Grade 12 student at Garth Webb Secondary School, was the winner of the youth category. Since 2013, she has been donating stuffed toys and school supplies to ill and underprivileged kids all across Ontario and globally.

“It actually started off as a project they assigned us in civics class to take action on an initiative of our choice,” said Abid.

“It feels amazing because I was recognized for this award and I was able to represent the 5.5 million kids in Pakistan that we send school supplies to, the sick kids who are undergoing treatments and all the homeless people that we support.”

Linda Coghlin, was the winner of the adult category and EveryChildNow founded by Vishal and Ishan Vijay, was the winner of the group category.

“All of the nominees were just absolutely incredible and it was so hard to choose, but the ones who won today really deserved it,” said Victoria Winslow, 2015 Peace Medallion selection committee member and Oakville Trafalgar High School student.

“It was very inspiring to see all the youth of our community doing so many wonderful things,” said Yvonne Iten-Scott.

“I loved Zak’s address, it was so interesting to hear his perspective and it’s something you don’t often get to hear from somebody coming from that background.”

“I think this is a remarkable community event,” said Michael Shaen, vice-chair of the Oakville Y board.

“It brings together a very wide cross section of people from the community, the stories have been remarkable and I think that every year people go away from this event feeling inspired.”