Fatima El Bakkali is a member of the Edmonton Muslim community. She is Indigenous and a proud mother, sister and daughter.
Actually, I didn’t really choose [Fatima], it was kind of chosen for me. I love the name. So A little short story: I met my husband in Morocco. We were at his place and his father, now my father-in-law, asked me if he could call me Fatima, because my Canadian first name is Shantehl, and that wasn’t normal or easy for them to say.
Shantehl is not a very common name in Morocco. They asked to call me Fatima specifically because my husband’s mother, who passed away a few years before I met my husband, was named Fatima, so the name was really special to the whole family. They really took a liking to me, so I got the privilege of having that name, and this was even before I became Muslim.
They started calling me by that name and it kind of just stuck, but of course back home, with my family, I was still Shantehl, but when I reverted, naturally it was my Muslim-name. That’s how I introduce myself to all Muslims. To non-Muslims, legally, on papers, I’m Shantehl, but I feel more respected to be called Fatima, especially because of the great woman who was Fatima.