On October 19, 2017 I rose in the Senate Chamber to commemorate Islamic Heritage Month.
I rise today to acknowledge that October is Islamic Heritage Month in Canada. As a Muslim who immigrated to this country more than 30 years ago, I understand all too well the importance of recognizing the contributions of the Muslim community to Canada.
Islamic History Month was overwhelmingly adopted by parliamentarians on all sides in 2007 in order to foster dialogue, as well as acceptance and cohesiveness, between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities within our country.
Islam is not new to Canada- Muslims have been here since confederation. Today more than 1.5 million Muslims call Canada home.
It should not serve as a surprise to anyone in this chamber that diversity, equality and freedom are core to the Islamic identity and way of life, much like the many conversations taking place as we celebrate Canada’s 150th.
Understanding the importance of diversity and pluralism, Muhammed (pbuh) founded the Charter of Medina, regarded by many as the first written constitution, which affirmed equal rights to each and every citizen of the city, regardless of faith, ethnicity or beliefs.
Muslim community organizations exist in all cities, with mandates of helping every Canadian that finds themselves in need, regardless of who they are or what they believe.
We know Muslim communities from across Canada came together to provide financial support to the families affected by the devastating fires in Fort McMurray.
More recently, once again I had the pleasure of joining the Muslim Welfare Centre in Toronto to serve lunch to community members from all walks of life.
Over the last 3 years, the Muslim Welfare Centre has provided over 55,000 warm meals to the hungry.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the obstacles the Muslim community has faced over the last year, but the resiliency of Muslim Canadians in difficult times is a testament to our beliefs. Islam teaches us to bear patience and pray during trying times. Besides, this month should serve as a time for all Canadians to come together to learn from one another and reconcile our differences; which may be surprisingly fewer than previously imagined.
Colleagues, Muslim Canadians are undeniably a part of the Canadian mosaic. Whether in the heart of our democracy here on Parliament Hill as well as in our schools, community centres, hospitals, in our police service, or our military, Muslim Canadians are present and accounted for and contribute to the development of the “true north strong and free.”