According to a study conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, Until fairly recently, followers of the religion of Islam were just one of the many parts of the Canadian mosaic that has emerged over the past few centuries from waves of immigrants coming to a land peopled by its Indigenous inhabitants. The first recorded Muslim family arrived in Upper Canada from Scotland in the early 1850s.
By 2011, the Muslim population passed the one million mark, comprising more than three percent of the total population and representing one of the fastest growing religious groups.
This article is spotlighting five fantastic Canadian Muslim groups who are contributing to the well-being of their communities.
1- Bridges of Mercy
Bridges of Mercy was launched by a group a volunteers who watched as Syrians had to flee their homes and wanted to help.
To date, Bridges of Mercy has brought three families (15 individuals) to Canada and has sponsorships underway for more families.
2- The Abraham Festival of Peterborough
The Abraham Festival of Peterborough, now in its 14th year, had its roots in the desire of three women – a Muslim, a Jew and a Catholic – to celebrate our roots in our common ancestor Abraham, peace be upon him.
The festival has brought together people of these three faiths (and others) to promote understanding and acceptance of ‘the other’.
When the mosque in Peterborough was fire-bombed in 2015, community support for local Muslims was outstanding – five different churches and the synagogue offered space for Friday prayers; this outpouring of support was in large part due to the work of the Abraham Festival in building bridges, building friendships, and dispelling stereotypes.
In the fall and winter, the AF sponsors a movie night, showing films with a spiritual or religious theme.
The AF also sponsored a Syrian refugee family last year.
3- Spreading Humanity
This is a group of Muslim moms who started out sponsoring a single Syrian family but in two years time, had sponsored five families by raising more than $80,000.
They started a 90 Days program in which this group supported other newcomers Syrian refugees by providing them monthly groceries , laptops and other house hold items during their first 90 days in Canada.
They ran a Bag of Generosity and Love Program on Family day 2016 and 2017 in which they provided 100 bags of groceries to 100 families in GTA and provided 100 bags containing health and sanitary items to homeless persons registered with the Red Cross Scarborough center.
Last Ramadan they ran a food Drive to help ICNA and Eden Food bank and was a major participant in the food drive organized by UICM group and which was recognized by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. They also ran a toy drive for EID.
In Christmas 2016 they ran a program called “We Muslims do Care” and provided gift bags to 100 homeless and under privileged Canadians registered with Red Cross Scarborough center.
4- MAC Kitchener
MAC Kitchener-Waterloo Provides thousands of meals to the Waterloo Food Bank. This year alone they provided close to 96,000 meals.
They are involved in the annual multiple sclerosis (MS) walk.
Sponsors the clean up of Old Oak Park.
5- Racialized Young Professionals Network
Racialized Young Professionals Network (RYPn) was started in 2015 and is committed to anti-racism work locally and across the province.
They have held four networking dinners which aim to break down racial barriers by inviting various guest speakers to share their stories and build a sense of community.
RYPn has co-facilitated workshops for refugee youth, anti-oppression training and just this past month, for the Mental Health Awareness Youth Conference in Muskrat Dam.
RYPn has spearheaded Muslim Women’s Roundtables to elevate Muslim women’s voices.
RYPn has also created a podcast titled ‘Racialized the Podcast’ with four episodes thus far featuring conversations across the racial divide.
They were recently awarded the ‘Young Professional Award’ by the Caribbean African Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay.
Photos are taken NCCM’s event announcement.