The hijab will never be the same, not after what Abeer Al-Azzawi has done to it. She has produced a form-fitting hijab, which Jessica Stewin, writing in the University of Manitoba student paper, says should put an end to sports bodies’ concerns about safety. Abeer’s hijabs are all made in Ottawa, and so naturally she produces one that is water-resistant and keeps the ears warm in Ottawa’s cold winters. Ottawa is second only to Ulan Bator as the coldest national capital in the world. She also sells a variety of other kinds, including a lightweight hijab and hijabs made with soy fabric. The hijab-making enterprise began as a summer project. Abeer is a 24-year-old recently minted engineer.
Abeer Al-Azzawi is a young renaissance woman. She came to Canada from Iraq with her family when she was 13, and since then she has gone from strength to strength. In high school, she was an anti-racist activist who was taken with a group of students by Hedy Fry, who was then Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, to a Youth Forum at Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany. At Carleton University, she seems to have owned the Dean’s List of students with an A average. Since, there have been stints as a teaching assistant at Carleton and McGill. As a co-op student, she worked for Environment Canada on a report on the regulation of benzene in gasoline. Her name is one of those on the report at the Government of Canada website.
For her start-up hijab production company, she taught herself to sew and design, and she has enlisted other family members to assist in production. But no, Abeer does not wear a hijab. She does not feel ready for the discipline that a hijab implies. Details on her hijabs are available online, at www.queendom-hijabs.com.