Ramadan this year came with good news to the Muslim community in the northern Quebec mining town of Chibougaumau with the opening of the first Islamic center in the town.
“I wanted to open a community centre when I saw that other Muslims lived in Chibougamau when I moved here a year ago, a place where we can all gather and pray,” said Hichem Djemai in Cree.
The Centre Communautaire El Mouahidine de Chibougamau opened for the first time on March 19, a few weeks before Ramadan, CBC reported.
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This is the first time Muslims will be able to gather for the holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 13 and continues until May 12.
Djemai moved to the community, located about 700 kilometers north of Montreal, joining a growing Muslim community in Chibougamau.
As the driving force behind the mosque, Djemai hopes the center will create a space where the wider community can gather and where children can come after school to do homework.
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New Community Center
Djemai also hopes it can be a place where non-Muslim’s come to learn more about what it means to be Muslim.
“The [Islamic] faith has helped me a lot. I was a rebellious young man while I was growing up. To pray again helped me, I became a better person, better human being and a better man,” said Djemai.
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade. Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.