EDMONTON – The oldest mosque in Canada opened its doors on Wednesday, February 6, to shelter the needy and homeless of all faiths between 6 pm and 10 am as temperatures were expected to reach a chilling low of -43°C overnight, The Star reported.
“This is one of the coldest nights we’ve seen in Edmonton for ten years. We won’t stop until it’s safe enough and easier for people to deal with,” said Noor Al-Henedy, the communications director of Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, Canada.
She added the mosque will shelter people as long as temperatures remain frigid and will offer hot meals and necessities for those seeking refuge under its roof away from the overnight’s deep freeze which continues to grip much of the city.
The mosque’s decision came as temperatures dipped late last week and the death of a man in central Edmonton on Sunday that police said was related to the bitter cold.
Al Rashid’s efforts to open its doors are done in collaboration with Alberta Muslim Affairs Public Council.
The efforts are expected to continue as the extreme cold will stay for the rest of the week; with temperatures on February 7 hitting -44°C with the wind chill.
It comes only a few days after a group of individuals connected to Soldiers of Oden and The Clann, known far-right Islamophobic hate groups, entered the mosque.
Al-Henedy announced that “the mosque will be appointing volunteers who will stay overnight with any visitors. We urge Edmontonians to direct those who need help to the mosque, or to call 211, a crisis line set up to help the city’s homeless.”
As of the 2011 National Household Survey, 5.5% of Edmonton residents were Muslim. In fact, this isn’t the first time the Muslim community has opened its doors to help. It opened up during the Fort McMurray fires in the summer of 2016 for families fleeing the blaze.
In the UK, a Birmingham mosque opened its doors this week to help homeless and rough sleepers during freezing winter temperatures.