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Canada's First Muslim
Woman MP
Yasmin Ratansi- Liberal Party MP, Don Valley East in Toronto, Ontario

In the June (2004) federal elections, Don Valley East was one of the closely watched contests. Yasmin Ratansi won as Liberal Party candidates Don Valley East in Toronto, Ontario

Yasmin Ratansi, 53, remembers when her detractors wrote her off as 'Muslim', 'woman', 'immigrant'. She says, "To people who like to label others I say: Canada is a land of opportunities. So work hard and make things work for yourself. I took things as a challenge. I always remembered what my father used to say - 'Struggle is the meaning of life, victory is not in your hands'."

Ratansi came to Canada in 1974 as a university graduate from England. Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, she is a third generation South Asian living out of Asia. Her grandparents migrated to Africa from the Kutch region in Gujarat, India. She says, "When I came to Canada, I realized this is a country which offers rich diversity. I fit in well. I was an Asian born in Africa who went to study in former colonialist England, and was a Muslim. With such diversity inside me, Canada was a natural place to settle and since my move here I have never considered myself as anything but Canadian." The 53-year-old MP, who has never married, says the young people she met through her volunteer work have
become her family.

Fourteen years after coming to Canada, Ratansi stood for federal elections but lost. She persevered for 15 more years to run again from the same constituency of Don Valley East in Toronto, Ontario. The fight was tough with the Conservative Party having fielded a heavyweight former Cabinet minister, David Johnson. But Ratansi emerged victorious.

She was Vice-Chair on the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry Foundation, Treasurer on the National Council of Ethnic Business and Professional Association, and Treasurer for the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Ontario. She has served as a consultant to community-based programs on economic planning, international trade and financing of micro-based businesses.

A Certified General Accountant and Management Consultant, Ms. Ratansi worked in the private sector with public accounting firms, Laventhol and Venture Edge Consulting. She joined the Ontario public sector in 1995 and has managed billions of dollars in public funds ensuring accountability and proper management of tax dollars. Ratansi comes across as a confident person. She asserts, "I have never looked at politics as a male domain and have never considered my fight different because I am a woman. I have taken things as a challenge. As an MP, I feel that I am sensitive to certain issues because I am a woman.

Inspired by the late Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau, Ms. Ratansi joined the Liberal Party and volunteered in many election campaigns at the federal and provincial levels

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Yasmin Ratansi
Her grandparents migrated to Africa from the Kutch region in Gujarat, India