A café owner in Winnipeg, in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, has invited Muslims and non-Muslims to come together for one night and bond over board games.
“Specifically, we invited members of the Muslim community,” Olaf Pyttlik told CBC.
“And we invited pretty much anyone else who wants to join and get to know some new friends, play games with them, and build a connection and hopefully bridge some of the cultural divide that seems to be happening around the world.”
He said he wanted to do something to show Muslim Winnipeggers that their city is behind them.
Therefore, he invited the Muslim community to come together Monday night over a classic pastime at Across the Board, Pyttlik’s Exchange District board game café.
“Because Across the Board is a place of community, and we have the means to get people together in a fun and positive environment, we saw this as the perfect reaction to what we just saw,” he said.
The invitation and support were welcomed by the Muslim community.
“I kind of expected something like this to happen, because this is Winnipeg,” Tasneem Vali, a volunteer with the Manitoba Islamic Association who is helping with the event.
The event will run from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday at the café, which is at the corner of Main Street and Bannatyne Avenue. Free food will be provided by Shawarma Khan.
Pyttlik says he’s also received “boxes and boxes” of donations of board games from publishers ahead of the event.
“I want to see people from different cultures and different backgrounds sitting at one table and getting to know each other and having a few laughs and smiling,” he said.
“Make a stand and show the local community and the world that there is a different way of dealing with each other.”
Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey estimated Muslims in Canada to be around 1,053,945, or about 3.2% of the population, making Islam the second largest religion in the country after Christianity.
Two years ago, a Canadian lone gunman opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City on the evening of January 29, 2017, killing six and injuring 19.
Statistics Canada reported a 151% spike in police-reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2017 following the Quebec mosque attack and the RCMP says far-right extremists have become emboldened in Canada.