SHAFAQNA -Â Kanataâ€™s growing Muslim community has started fundraising to build itself a local home.
The community, which began with about 45 people a decade or so ago has grown to several thousand, said Kanata imam Sikander Hashmi, meaning the community is outgrowing its temporary home in six rental facilities across Kanata.
But the Muslim communityâ€™s growth is just one factor leading to the need for a permanent place of its own, said Hashmi. Having a local mosque would not just be a place for Muslims to gather, but a place for the broader community to learn about Islam and their Muslim neighbours.
With Kanata being such a fast growing community, the Muslim community is growing along with it, said Hashmi.
In the past year alone the attendance at Friday prayer services has grown by about 100 people, with more than 600 attending the weekly service, held at rental spaces in the Mlacak Centre or the Richcraft Recreation Complex, he said.
With employers like Ciena, Sanmina and the Department of National Defence setting up shop nearby, Hashmi said he expects the Muslim population to continue increasing.
The Kanata Muslim Association has spread its activities across six different rental facilities, including schools, and all facilities have been welcoming, said Hashmi.
â€œWe are very fortunate that we do have a great broader community, and people have been very, very helpful,â€ he said.
But the need for a permanent home is great, as it would make holding community activities and events easier, and promote greater understanding between Muslims and the rest of Kanata, said Hashmi.
â€œYou know whatâ€™s going on nowadays. Obviously there are a lot of misunderstandings, there is a lot of fear unfortunately, and itâ€™s on both sides,â€ he said. â€œThe broader community might have misunderstandings, but then within the (Muslim) community, people are also fearful of what people are thinking about them.
â€œI think itâ€™s really important to have a place thatâ€™s just really welcoming and inclusive for everyone. Itâ€™s not just members of our community but people in the neighbourhood or anyone else who wants to come in and make use of the facilities and rent a room or hold an event or just use the green space should be welcome to do that,â€ said Hashmi.
With that goal in mind, Hashmi and the Kanata Muslim Association performed a survey of the Muslim community asking them if they would support the project, which came back with an overwhelming yes, said Hashmi.
Fundraising started during the month of Ramadan with a goal of raising $300,000. Though about $190,000 was raised, Hashmi said the response was good nonetheless.
However, he estimates the project will require somewhere around $2 million.
â€œAt this point, itâ€™s very early on,â€ he said of the project.
The association has yet to come up with potential land options, though it would likely look for a site in north Kanata near Morganâ€™s Grant and Shirleyâ€™s Brook, said Hashmi.
Beyond that, exactly what the building would look like or when it could be open is up in the air, he said, though he stressed the need for communication with future neighbours of a mosque.
â€œWe want to be very open to the community wherever this is going to be so people understand what we are doing there and understand what our vision is,â€ said Hashmi, adding donations will not be coming from overseas, but from local groups and people.