There is much to learn and celebrate during the month of October, which Parliament declared Canadian Islamic History Month in 2007.
A significant Muslim presence in Canada goes back to the early 20th century, when Bosnian and Albanian immigrants settled here. Today, Canada boasts a population of over one million, most of whom live in Ontario.
Muslims have made substantial contributions that have enriched every aspect of Canadian life, notably the sciences, mathematics, literature and the arts. The Muslim community is also renowned for supporting new Canadians through settlement and English-language services.
While the popular series Little Mosque on the Prairie shed some light on Muslim family life, many Canadians still lack an appreciation for Muslims’ vital contributions to the social, economic, political and cultural fabric of the nation. It is a reason why Canadian Islamic History Month is so important.
Another reason is countering the disgraceful discrimination Muslims must often bear in our streets, schools, workplaces and even public life. Just 10 months after Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, killing six and injuring 19, Quebec passed Bill 62, which prevents a person whose face is covered from delivering or receiving public services. This law targets Muslim women who choose to wear a veil.
That’s why OPSEU has repeatedly and loudly condemned discrimination against Muslims or any other community. We have equity committees and caucuses that build bridges and create coalitions to increase awareness and education, and work towards eliminating every type of oppression.
Although COVID-19 will curtail some of the activities that normally take place in October, it can’t diminish the pride Muslims take in their history, achievements, culture and faith – and which all Ontarians are privileged to share in, particularly this month.
To OPSEU’s Muslim members, Ontario Muslims and all Ontarians, we wish you a very happy Canadian Islamic History Month!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer