SHAFAQNA – Muslim leaders in the Manitoba province in the longitudinal centre of Canada have invited indigenous people to share spirits of Ramadan, paying an overdue payment to the community.
“Ramadan is a time that we try to bring out the value of charity and giving for others,” Idris Elbakri, president of the Manitoba Islamic Association, told.
“Last year we did an iftar with the Siloam Mission and this year we felt that it was about time that we built better bridges with the indigenous community.”
The iftar, held on Sunday, was open to the public.
It was held at the Winnipeg Grand Mosque, the city’s largest mosque, which is on Waverley Street.
According to Elbakri, the Islamic association viewed Sunday’s Iftar as recognizing the sharing of the land by First Peoples.
“It’s more that many of us are enjoying the privileges of living in Canada so it’s starting to make a payment on a debt that’s long overdue,” said Elbakri, who gave a brief presentation on the fasting process and the spiritual journey during Ramadan.
The event was praised by representatives of indigenous people for sharing a spirit of giving between the two communities.
“I love any opportunities when communities come together and take those opportunities to learn about each other, sit with each other, gather with each other and really, in those moments, you are creating family,” Nahanni Fontaine, the MLA for St. Johns and the former NDP cabinet special adviser on aboriginal women’s issues, said.
“It’s such an honor and I’m so excited about the fact that the Islamic Association reached out to us.
Not everybody takes those moments to reach out. It’s a beautiful opportunity to bridge our communities but more importantly to create family in our communities.”
On the other hand, Tasnem Vali, the office manager for the Manitoba Islamic Association, explained to attendants Ramadan’s message of giving to the less fortunate.
“In Ramadan, it is a spiritual month for us. It’s not just fasting, when you stop eating and drinking, but you always want to better yourself. You better the place that you’re in,” Vali said.
She said the Manitoba Islamic Association participated three years ago in the Give 30 campaign, a national campaign run annually since 2012 combating hunger.
It continues this year and is being led by 11 food banks across Canada, including Winnipeg Harvest.
“People wanted to know what it is that we do, how do we break the fast, what the deal is, so we set this event up. Whatever the ticket sales we have, we give to the beneficiary for this year,” Vali said.