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Richmond author receives international book award

Co-authors of award-winning book promotes cross-cultural understanding
Arooj Hayat
Arooj Hayat is one of the co-authors of the award-winning book titled The Parkour Club.

An international book award was presented to a Richmond resident and her co-author for their novel highlighting the idea of Islamophobia.

Richmondite Arooj Hayat, a pharmacy doctoral student at UBC, and Pam Withers met through the B.C. Muslim Association and decided to collaborate on their young adult novel titled “The Parkour Club.”

The book won a Silver Nautilus Award, which is presented to books that support “conscious living and green values, high-level wellness, positive social change and social justice, and spiritual growth.”

Their novel follows the story of a Yemeni refugee trying to adapt to his new life, such as school and a love interest, after immigrating to North America.

The story, said Hayat, was inspired by a real-life group of parkour athletes who go by the name of the Aden Freerunners in Yemen.

Parkour is the act of moving from one point to another while jumping over walls, swinging from railings or using other obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency.

These YouTube artists show their parkour skills and talents with a message for their viewers that parkour can “surmount war” happening in their country.

“I emigrated from Pakistan as a child and remember trying hard to fit in and having my culture from back home and getting it to all align,” said Hayat.

The Britannia secondary alumni added that the book also reflected her own experiences of racism growing up and how she adapted to school in Canada.

“It’s a bit exciting to bring a bit of that experience into the book.”

Withers told the Richmond News that Hayat’s experiences also contributed to the story’s authenticity.

“As an immigrant, Arooj helped increase the story’s authenticity and ensured it was respectful of Islam,” said Withers.

“We were both keen that (the book) promoted cross-cultural understanding.”

The Parkour Club can be found on Amazon.