I rise today to commemorate Islamic History Month in the Senate of Canada. Born out of the need to facilitate dialogue and understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, October was officially proclaimed as Islamic History Month by the House of Commons in 2007.
During this month, commemorations have taken and will take place across the country. These celebrations highlight the important contributions of Muslim Canadians not only to Canada but to the rest of the world. Moreover, this month offers Muslims across Canada opportunities to help inform non-muslims about Islamic culture, art, history and the principles that we adhere to.
While Islamic History Month was officially proclaimed in 2007, in truth, Muslim-Canadians have played a role in the great Canadian settlement story since before, during and after confederation.
When we think of the first settlers, fur traders, farmers, gold prospectors, explorers, and merchants, we remember the names of the French, British and other western explorers and settlers from our history books. But many of us may not have heard of people like Ali Abouchadi, a Muslim immigrant to Canada in 1905 who jumped at the opportunities that this new land provided for him, becoming a farmer, a fur trader, an explorer of the north, and running his own general store and saw mill. Just as resourceful as the Muslim immigrants of today, he quickly learned the Cree language and cemented his relationship amongst the first people.
Bedouin Ferran (also known as Peter Baker), settled in the North West Territories after his arrival to Canada in 1910. A pioneer and explorer, he too, explored the north and established trading networks with First Nation communities. In his later years, he was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, becoming one of the first Muslim politicians in Canada. Those are but two examples of the Muslim imprint on development of our great country.
Looking back over the past 100 years, there are numerous examples of contributions and legacies that Muslims have left behind for us to look to.
Today, Muslim-Canadians are just as present, active and engaged in all aspects of Canadian society. We are making significant contributions in medicine, arts, literature, politics, business, sports, and in the non-profit sectors. My allotted time is far too short to name the many individual and collective accomplishments of Canadian Muslims today.
Honourable Senators, I am confident that 100 years from now, Muslim generations will look back on what their predecessors achieved before them, and they too will be proud.