While Murad Velshi lived in apartheid-era South Africa, the laws always seemed to be against him. Indians like him were forced to live in ghettos. They were not allowed to eat in restaurants. They were not allowed to use public washrooms. They couldn’t even go to movies.
By the time the Velshis left for Canada in 1961, the South African government had made things impossible for them. The family’s bakery was raided on an almost monthly basis, with police in full riot gear. The reason: for the bread to rise, the bakery used yeast, which is also used to ferment alcohol. And, inSouth Africa, non-whites were not allowed to drink alcohol.
Velshi found Canada to be a friendlier climate for business. He and his wife established a successful travel business, which grew to operate five offices in Ontario and British Columbia.
In 1987, he became the first South Asian and first Muslim to be elected to the Ontario legislature. He was also the first Ismaili Muslim elected to any seat in North America.