Calgary Muslims hold ‘One Nation’ meet and greet to increase understanding

SHAFAQNA  -Dozens of Calgarians got to ‘meet a Muslim neighbour’ and learn about Muslim culture, food and traditions at a meet and greet Saturday called One Nation.

As Alberta prepares to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees over the coming months and with anti-Muslim attacks being reported across the country, the One Nation event at the Country Hills Village Vivo centre hoped to address stereotypes head on and increase the connection between Calgarians of all faiths.

Parent Brett Barlow wanted to equip his children with knowledge of the Muslim community.

“We just wanted to get the kids some questions answered, and some awareness brought to them, so if they hear things on the streets or whatever, they’re able to make decisions for themselves,” Barlow said.

Others say, they wanted to show up to make Muslims feel more comfortable and welcome.

Joyce Hildebrand, Jane Wong

Joyce Hildebrand, left, and Jane Wong attend the One Nation meet and greet in Calgary Saturday. The wanted to learn more and let Muslims know they are welcome in the city. (CBC)

Jane Wong immigrated to Canada 27 year ago.

“We should try to welcome them in our country because we have welcomed previous immigrants, and they are coming as a new immigrant, we should understand them, help them,” Wong said.

Joyce Hildebrand wanted to know more.

“I feel like I really want to know what the average Muslim believes and what their way of life is like, and meet some face to face,” Hildebrand said.

One Nation meet and greet in Calgary Saturday

Food was a hit at the meet and greet Saturday. (CBC)

Food was featured prominently, along with the chance to wear a hijab and experience henna as a type of temporary body art.

Henna art

Henna, temporary body art, was offered at the One Nation meet and greet Saturday in Calgary. (CBC)

Organizer Shima Safwat says her friends told her to postpone the event after the attacks in Paris however, she says it’s even more important to tell people about her culture now.

Shima Safwat

Organizer Shima Safwat says friends told her to postpone the One Nation event but she says it’s more important than ever to create understanding. (CBC)

“We are here to build, not to destroy,” Safwat said.

“We are here to love, not to hate. We are here to work, not to kill.”

The event was funded by a grant from the Calgary Foundation.

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