- Saturday, two dozen Muslim youth from southern Ontario were given a crash course in local Indigenous history, capping off a multi-week virtual course with some in-person experiences.
- Taha Ghayyur, executive director of that charity, stated that the organizers hoped the program would be eye-opening for those involved.
The teens and leaders went to Six Nations of the Grand River, where they saw St. Peter’s Anglican Church, a longhouse, the band council’s administration building, and the water treatment plant. They then went to Brantford’s Woodland Cultural Centre, where they met a residential school survivor outside the former Mohawk Institute.
“I’ve learned so much,” said Arooj Awan, 16, of Woodbridge. “I had never heard of any opportunities for Muslim and Indigenous people to come together before, so this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Awan was particularly taken with a museum exhibit that shows how non-indigenous people and businesses have commercialized indigenous items. “I couldn’t tell the difference in them, which revealed some of my ignorance.”
Aaliyah Suleman of Markham, another participant, said the day had shown her how much she didn’t know.
“There is so much we can learn in school.” So learning that this was happening in my country has been heartbreaking. “I know more about what’s going on on the other side of the world than what’s going on in my backyard.”
During the initiative’s virtual component, the young people heard from several Imams about the Islamic perspective on reconciliation and about Six Nations culture, faith, history, and challenges from local Indigenous leaders.
The Muslim-Indigenous Connection program, started by three Muslim leaders, including Imam Abu Noman Tarek in Brantford, drew in Justice For All Canada, a human rights organization that fights the oppression of Muslim minorities worldwide.
“Canadian Muslim youth have witnessed the ugly face of hatred in Canada,” said Ghayyur. “They have had their dilemmas of being stereotyped, but we don’t want to be guilty of doing to others what we ask others not to do.”