Confirmed victory
Petitioning Greater Toronto Airport Authority

Let's Correct the Misleading Farsi Welcome Sign at Toronto Pearson International Airport


This petition seeks to inform the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, the entity in charge of Toronto's Pearson Airport, that they should immediately correct the Persian/Farsi welcome sign displayed in Toronto's Pearson Airport.  Upon arriving at Pearson, the travelers pass by a series of photos of children from different nationalities holding welcome signs in their respective native languages.  There are two issues with the photo of the child representing the Iranian-Canadian community:

1- The Persian phrase used for "Welcome" is grammatically incorrect.

2- The picture of a little girl in Islamic hijab grossly distorts the reality about the Iranian-Canadian community:  a community that is ethnically and religiously diverse and many of whose members have embraced the right to dress freely in Canada.    By portraying Iranian-Canadians as Islamic, the photo excludes many of our community members who are Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, or Baha’i or who simply choose not to practice.  Furthermore, the photo uses a child to convey a politically charged and incorrect message.  We do not believe that children should be used for such a purpose. 

This petition is meant to bring these two important points to the attention of the GTAA in hopes that they will be rectified.

The petition organizers wish to thank the Iranian-Canadian community and their allies for their support in this regard.  

Letter to
Greater Toronto Airport Authority
Date: May 15, 2012

To: Corporate Affairs and Communications
Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Toronto Pearson International Airport
P.O. Box 6031, 3111 Convair Drive
Toronto AMF, Ontario, Canada L5P 1B2
CC: Customer Service Quality

We are a group of Canadian citizens with Iranian heritage. While travelling through Pearson airport in the past few months we have noticed that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) has placed a number of welcoming signs in different languages in the arrival section of Terminal 1, specifically around two escalators moving down to the customs section (see attached images). While we praise the GTAA for its appreciation of cultural diversity by means of welcoming passengers in their native languages, we have found two issues with the welcome sign in Persian/Farsi (Iran’s official language) shown in the hands of a young girl.
1. The grammatically-correct phrase used in Farsi for welcome is “خوش آمدید” not “خوش آمد”. Transliterated, the sign should read as “Khosh aamadid” not “Khosh aamad”.

2. The young girl, presumably Iranian-Canadian, is pictured while wearing Islamic hijab. The GTAA’s decision to use this picture is, regrettably, a grossly inaccurate depiction of Iranian-Canadians. You may be interested to know that only a very small percentage of Iranian-Canadian women (and an even smaller percentage of Iranian-Canadian girls) wear the hijab. As you are certainly aware, the Iranian government forces Iranian women to wear the hijab in violation of many fundamental human rights. Thus, most Iranian-Canadian women and girls cherish the fact that, in Canada, they are permitted to dress freely. The imposition of hijab in Iran is, in fact, often among the reasons that Iranian women immigrate to Canada. It is therefore unfortunate that the GTAA would use this stereotype image of Iranian girls which is both politically charged and objectively inaccurate. Furthermore, this depiction of an Iranian-Canadian child in Islamic hijab excludes the large numbers of children from our community who are not Muslims. Many Iranian-Canadians are Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrians and Baha'i. To depict the Iranian-Canadian community as Islamic purposely excludes these historically-marginalized groups.

We hope that the above explanation is sufficient to convince the GTAA’s authorities to quickly replace the sign with a child without hijab (a much more accurate depiction of Iranian-Canadian children) as well as the grammatically correct wording.
We would like to thank you in advance for your attention in this respect.
Yours very truly,