MONTREAL – On the third Saturday each month, members of Imani Community Center and St. George’s Anglican Church in Little Burgundy fill brown paper bags with homemade food, fruits, water, and drinks in a ‘Meals to the Street’ initiative to take care of homeless in Montreal.
“Then the volunteers walk around the downtown core, handing out meals to the city’s homeless. It’s an initiative that was born out of a shared desire to do something good and foster an interfaith connection,” Rev. Steven Mackison told CBC on Saturday.
Mackison remembers the interfaith group’s first meeting when the congregation of St. George’s invited members of the Imani Community Center over for a get-together.
The Imani Community Centre reciprocated, hosting the Anglican worshippers. By a mere coincidence, it was the same day the Quebec City witnessed the mosque shooting that killed six Muslim men in 2017.
“This tragedy, has actually galvanized our sense of mission and ministry in the importance of doing this project,” said Mackison.
“To show the world that hate and intolerance won’t overshadow our mutual desire to work together as two faith communities.”
Musabbir Alam, Imam at the Imani Community Centre, recalled that the day after the shooting, Rev. Mackison reached out with a letter of sympathy.
“It was something very emotional for us, but knowing they had our back, and we are not in this alone, even though we are from different faith communities … It was something very important, and it gave us the hope that we could do [things] together, and actually work together to make changes in our community,” said Alam.
After a year of united efforts Alam says, “We’ve prepared about 3,000 shawarmas. We’ve about 50 volunteers coming and making all the sandwiches and going on the street — it’s a wonderful experience.”
Sarah Faye and Patricia Hamilton have been volunteering in the initiative since day one. “I think we got to know each other over either shredding chicken or chopping tomatoes,” joked Hamilton.
For her part, Faye expressed: “Actually, that’s one of my favourite parts too. Because I can meet people I don’t meet in my everyday life. And then we get to know each other and know that we’re just the same.”