Timiro Mohamed was 12 when she took the stage for the first time as a spoken word artist at The Mosquers Film Festival.
Now in its 11th run, the unique festival has shone a light on some of the hidden artistic talents in Edmonton since its beginnings at the University of Alberta in 2006.
The event has focused on bringing Muslim artists to centre stage.
Mohamed will be performing again this year at The Mosquers. The festival takes place Saturday night at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music.
"It feels like a very full-circle moment and it just feels nice to know that my community is creating a space where I can share my art and feel highlighted and centred," Mohamed said.
The one-day event showcases the diverse Muslim experience through short films in an effort to change how people perceive Muslims in film, said Sofia Alani, the festival's external events director.
"There's so much Islamophobia around, there's so much misunderstanding, and I think when you allow people to kind of share their own narratives there's this dialogue that's been created where you open that space for people to have more understanding and build more connection," Alani said.
The event has grown to include film festival submissions from around the world, drawing international performers and artists.
But there's more to it than just film. Organizers say year after year, the festival pursues new ways to introduce Muslims and non-Muslims to the most original and authentic storytelling.
Scarcity of women
A common everyday struggle the festival tries to address is the relative scarcity of Muslim individuals, especially women, in the creative industry.
This year's event will showcase female Muslim artists.
"There's so many Muslim women that are doing amazing things and holding it down. So I don't think the issue is whether or not there's talent," Mohamed said.
"I think it's about, when are there spaces where we can be present, where we can be centred, and where you can just pass us the microphone and allow us to share our arts? And this is one of those spaces."
Tickets are available on the festival's website. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event starts at 6:30 p.m.