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The earliest documented account of Muslims in Canada is of James and Agnes Love, who immigrated from Scotland and settled in Ontario. They gave birth to the first Muslim born in Canada in 1854, named “James” after his father.
A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO MUSLIMS IN CANADA
Islam is a religion accessible to all people regardless of where they come from or who they are. Muslim communities are welcoming and open places and invite all to visit. If you are curious about Muslims and Islam simply call a local mosque to arrange a visit.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBOUR
THE FIRST MOSQUE IN CANADA
In the early 1930s, the total Muslim population in Canada was 645, with highest concentrations in Western Canada. Edmonton was home to the largest Muslim community.
On December 12, 1938, the official opening of Al Rashid, the first mosque in Canada was held. This was a large public event with attendance by the Mayor of Edmonton and the Mayor of Hanna, Alberta. The dedication was performed by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, a prominent Muslim scholar and translator of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book.
SOME COOL HISTORY ABOUT MUSLIMS IN CANADA
Government census records show that 125 people from Turkey and Syria arrived before 1896 and settled in the prairie provinces in 1916, however they are not described as “Muslims”. They may have been reluctant to disclose their faith because of the negative attitudes that existed towards non-European immigrants of non-Christian faith.
At the turn of the 20th century, more Muslims arrived from what is present-day Turkey, Syria, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Lebanon.
They immigrated to Canada in eager response
to the advertisements of endless opportunity for growth and expansion in a vast new country. Some took part in the Klondike Gold Rush and the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Some Muslims settled in the Maritimes, Ontario, and Quebec, but most, particularly the Lebanese Muslims, journeyed to the Prairies where they eventually became successful farmers and business people.
OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION
As the Muslim population grows in Canada, there is a need for educators, employers, colleagues, neighbours, and community service personnel to learn about and understand their fellow Muslim Canadians.
Unfortunately, inaccurate and distorted information is all too rampant and readily available in textbooks, print and broadcast media, the internet, and entertainment world.
An Educator’s Guide has been developed to aid in the presentation and discussion of the New Life in a New Land video series. The following pages also provide additional background to better understanding Canadian Muslims.