Academy Basketball Founder Denied Canadian Residency

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who moved to Canada two years ago, from the United States of America, has been denied the privilege to become a full time Canadian citizen. She was the woman who founded the academy for Muslim basketball in London, Ontario. She was the leading high school point scorer for boys and girls when she attended her high-school in Massachusetts, and was the first woman to play in a hijab in NCAA Division I, at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. She fought for the right for players to be able to wear hijabs on the court, by fighting a four year battle, against the FIBA. At the same time as she won this battle, she sacrificed her career of playing basketball professionally. This is when she decided to take up coaching in London, Ontario.  

She “wanted to provide a space where they could come and play and practice their faith and shoot hoops at the same time”. She explained that by sacrificing her professional career, this allowed the next generations of Muslim basketball athletes to play basketball without being told they were to based on their race. Now, Abdul-Qaadir is forced to move out of Canada, having received a letter from the Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stating that she does not meet the requirements for fulltime immigration to Canada. Her application was denied because of the organization not believing that an athletic director for sports teams at the London Muslim Mosque, was agreeable with the conditions that the IRCC considers as the main duties for employment here in Canada for an immigrant.  

Abdul-Qaadir and her husband are unsure whether they want to fight this case or not. Unfortunately, this situation goes against the goal of Canada’s Anti-Racism Action Program implemented in 2019-2022,. Abdul-Qaadir has built a ground-breaking program for Muslim basketball players in London, Ontario, and is now being denied full residency, which goes against the idea of Canada wanting to reduce racism and discrimination against immigrants. This is an issue that needs to be fought and further discussed. By not being aware and not acting against discrimination and unjust behaviours towards immigrants, this cycle will repeat itself.  

Luka Marinic

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