Outburst Crush: Five Questions with Illustrator Autumn Crossman

This year for International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab in Quebec who are experiencing an increase of systemic and community violence after the proposal for the Quebec Charter of Values.  Outburst partnered with Muslimah illustrator Autumn Crossman to create a poster celebrating Muslim’s women resistance. We discovered & fell in LOVE with Autumn’s work through her tumblr blog especially the image “Hijabis in Paris”.  Autumn is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can find her on twitter. We asked her five questions about her art and inspiration. 


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1. Outburst: Tell us about yourself & your art

Autumn: So, I’ve been making art since I could hold a pencil. My dad used to sit me on his lap and I’d make him draw Sesame Street and Muppet characters for me and that planted the art seed! I didn’t really take it too seriously or get really into art until middle school when I started watching more anime and reading more comics. It was something that interested me beyond enjoying Disney and reading Sailor Moon manga so I kept at it!

2. Outburst:  Can you share some artists that inspire you?

Autumn: Too many! I have a lot of friends who happen to be artists that I admire a lot and who inspire me as well as some art heroes of mine I’ve loved for a long time like Quentin Blake who illustrated a lot of Roald Dahl’s books and more currently Kate Beaton, Fiona Staples, Tom Siddell, Phil Noto, Akiko Higashimura, Hayao Miyazaki and Lucy Knisely to name a small few. My tastes run eclectic mainly because I like to try and gain knowledge and inspiration fro anyone and anything.

3. Outburst!: You are a fantastic artist and have created pieces that speak to the hijab bans in Paris and now in Quebec. What inspired you to create these pieces? What do hope will inspire people to do once they see the illustration?

Autumn: Thanks! It’s a funny story actually, when i was still in school it was during France’s hijab ban and obviously I was pretty upset over it and I was discussing it with my friend/surrogate older sister Emma and she came up with the wordplay from Kanye lyrics and I was like wouldn’t it be so good if i drew something to that?” and she was like literally why arent you tho. It was for a school assignment first then i thought I’d share it and put it on tshirts and stuff on my Redbubble and it went over so well! I’m pretty proud of it and the dialogue especially with non Muslim friends that it opened up.

4. Outburst! You have a great tumblr blog that showcases your art. What has some of the feedback online to your work? 

Autumn: It’s been so great for me honestly, I’m so lucky. People have been really receptive to my storytelling and illustrations and doodles and slowly but surely I’m gaining a pretty rad fan base of people who all really care about my art and also sometimes me as well haha. 

5. Outburst!:  The name for our group came from the idea that we wanted to speak out as young Muslim women. Can you share a time you have spoken out?

Autumn: I don’t know if there’s anything specific? I do spend a lot of time in general being like “Uhhh that’s not a real…..fact……..” when i hear some of the stuff people say and have said. I get asked from time to time if I’m like, oppressed or if my dad made me wear hijab or if I was forced to quit school etc etc and while its not super often, it’s enough to get very annoying. 

 I’m fairly expressive so sometimes it’s less speaking up and more incredibly incredulous looks at people until they stop telling me the thing and feel shame, haha.  Sometimes I think the act in of itself of being a vocal muslim is speaking up because I do end up having to explain things on a fairly regular basis to many many people. Don’t be shy to tell people what you know and what you don’t. Sometimes people ask questions only someone with like 20 years of Islamic studies can answer. 

 Autumn is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can find her on twitter

Hijabis in Quebec Ball So Hard, International Women’s Day Solidarity

HIJABISQC Outburst 2014 International Women’s Day Poster by the brilliant Autumn Crossman. Join us in sending solidarity & love to our sisters in Quebec. #IWD2014

We stand in solidarity with our Quebec Muslims sisters and other religious minorities who are experiencing daily micro aggressions, violence and isolation as a result of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values (Bill 60). We ask you to join us in supporting of our sisters in Quebec this International Women`s Day (IWD) events by marching with us in Torontohttps://www.facebook.com/events/731075343592233/ or making your own solidarity contingent in IWD activities nationwide. Please document your activities & post on social media with the hashtag #right2wearIWD

Outburst! believes that barring a woman from accessing social services, employment, health and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective way to help her. Muslim women are increasingly targets for verbal and physical violence since the proposal for Bill 60 was introduced. In a recent online survey of 388 Muslim women living in Quebec, 88% said they no longer feel safe leaving their homes . Even though the Charter has been tabled we worry that visible Muslim women will continue to be targeted.

What was the Charter of Values?

The Charter of Values (Bill 60), also known as the “Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests”, was tabled in November 2013 by the governing Parti Québécois. Its stated goals are:
(1) setting clear rules for everyone on religious accommodation; and
(2) affirming ‘Quebec values’ including equality between women and men, religious neutrality of
Quebec’s public institutions, and recognition of a common historic heritage; and
(3) Establishing the religious neutrality of the state to promote pluralism by ensuring fair and equal treatment of all beliefs.

The bill includes a ban on the wearing of ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols for all state personnel except elected officials. This includes kippahs, turbans, hijabs, niqabs and large crucifixes. The bill makes it mandatory for persons to have their faces uncovered when receiving a state service.

The proposed Charter of Values (Bill 60):

  • “Exacerbate inequality between women and men and worsen the situation of women who are targeted by the law
  • Affirms that the type of secularism it defends will create equality between men and women;
  • Wrongly equates the veil with the oppression of women;
  • Dictates (beyond what is already stipulated in the law) what people, in particular women, may or may not wear;
  • Will have a devastating impact on marginalized women” Simone de Beauvoir Institute

Learn More Here:

Outburst! Program Webinar on: Understanding Forced Marriage in North America

Register now for the next Barbra Schlifer Clinic, Outburst! Program Webinar on: Understanding Forced Marriage in North America

When: January 23rd 2014 from 1:00 pm – 3:00pm EST.

Forced marriage occurs when one or both of the parties are married without their consent or against their will. It is a form of family violence that can impact communities in Canada and the United States, presenting unique challenges for social service providers, lawyers and communities. This panel discussion, featuring experts from the United States and Canada, will provide attendees with an overview of the nature and scope of forced marriage in both countries, as well as discuss comparative challenges to providing support for individuals at risk.  This webinar will feature presenter Deepa Mattoo of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO), Canada and Heather Heiman of the Tahirih Justice Center, United States. The two agencies have each conducted groundbreaking research projects on forced marriage in Ontario, Canada and the United States.

Please click here to register for the webinar – space is limited, so sign up soon. Webinar login information will be emailed out after you sign up.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact Outburst! Coordinator Farrah Khan directly at 416-323-9149 ext 243 or f.khan@schliferclinic.com

This event is part of a series of quarterly webinars on “honour” related violence/forced marriage violence hosted by the Barbra Schlifer Clinic’s Outburst! Young Muslim Women Program.

rings marriage

Presenter Bios:

Deepa Mattoo is a Staff Lawyer and currently Acting Executive Director with SALCO. SALCO is a not-for-profit legal aid clinic that was first established in 1999. In September 2007, SALCO was given permanent legal clinic status by Legal Aid Ontario. SALCO’s mandate is to provide access to justice for low-income South Asians in the Greater Toronto area. They chair the Network of Agencies Against Forced Marriages, and deliver public legal education and community development initiatives on the issue of forced marriage. Their recent survey on forced marriage entitled, Who, If, When to Marry: The Incidence Of Forced Marriage In Ontario successfully brought attention and awareness of the issue into the public sphere through the participation of various key stakeholders. Deepa holds a M.B.A. with a specialization in corporate social responsibility from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. She has over 14 years of experience in providing legal services, public education, advocacy and not-for-profit governance. Deepa has been involved with various issues related to domestic violence globally and has been a leading voice on the issue of forced marriage in Canada.

Heather Heiman is an attorney specializing in public policy advocacy and forced marriage issues at the Tahirih Justice Center a national non-profit organization that supports courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence. Heather works on all aspects of Tahirih’s policy campaigns, which strive to improve legal protections and access to services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage, and other forms of gender-based violence. As manager of Tahirih’s groundbreaking Forced Marriage Initiative, Heather provides direct legal services to individuals facing forced marriage, fields technical assistance requests nationally, and coordinates the National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage/Forced Marriage Working Group. Heather was the principal drafter and analyst of a 2011 national survey on forced marriage in immigrant communities in the United States, and engages in extensive national outreach and training on this issue. Heather is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law, where she was conferred a Juris Doctor degree and Certificate in International and Comparative Law.

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic (the Clinic) provides legal representation, professional counselling and multilingual interpretation to 5000 women each year.  Outburst! Young Muslim Women Program is an award winning program of the Clinic for young Muslim young women breaking silence and speaking out about violence including forced marriage and ‘honour’ related violence.  The Clinic recognizes that survivors are central to the elimination of violence in their lives and Outburst! is guided by young Muslim women’s lived experience.  Outburst is an opportunity for them to determine the ways they define and access safety. The program works to increase the leadership capacity of young Muslim women to shape solutions to the forms of violence they experience through programming, training, counseling and research. In 2014, Outburst! is launching a provincial wide training in collaboration with SALCO on Forced Marriage and ‘Honour’ Related Violence, which includes risk assessment & safety planning tools.  Outburst! is the 2013 recipient of  the Canadian Women’s Foundation Michelle Landsberg Award and the ArtReach Pitch Contest Award for their community and programming initiatives.

Outburst! Young Muslim Women’s Project is graciously funded by ArtReach Toronto, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Ontario Women’s Directorate