Toronto, Canada —“All of us ought to really feel the ache of the Indigenous neighborhood right here … as a result of we have now seen what imperialism does to our nations again dwelling,” Aarij Anwer, Imam of the London Muslim Mosque in Ontario, mentioned throughout Friday’s prayer, livestreamed on social media.
On Friday, Anwer was one in every of 75 Imams throughout Canada who supplied condolences and expressed solidarity with Indigenous individuals following the discoveries of unmarked graves, now totalling greater than 1,000, at forced-assimilation establishments referred to as residential faculties.
The Canadian Council of Imams and Justice For All Canada led the coordinated effort to lift consciousness. In an announcement, the Imams wrote, “The invention of hundreds-upon-hundreds of graves of harmless youngsters — stolen from their households, abused, tortured and starved within the title of European imperialism — has left us numb with ache and disgrace.”
Throughout prayer, Anwer referred to as upon his fellow Muslims to point out solidarity with Indigenous individuals, sharing the story of his grandfather fleeing Delhi after the 1947 British-sanctioned partition of India and Pakistan. “All of you’ve got comparable tales, I can assure you that,” he mentioned. “So if any neighborhood ought to really feel the ache of imperialism and colonialism and brutal homicide, it needs to be us. And that’s why our sympathies for the Indigenous needs to be much more, our help for them needs to be much more, as a result of we all know what that looks like.”
From the late 1800s till 1996, Canada forcibly eliminated 150,000 Indigenous youngsters from their properties and stored them in establishments run by church workers, who minimize their lengthy hair, and forbade them from talking their languages or training their cultures. Many have been bodily and sexually abused. They have been tortured in an electrical chair, starved, and put by dietary experiments.
The Reality and Reconciliation Fee (TRC), in a years-long inquiry to doc hundreds of survivors’ tales, described the establishments as “incubators of illness” the place many youngsters died of tuberculosis. Some died from publicity after escaping the jail-like circumstances; some died in fires as a result of, to cease youngsters from operating away, the establishments ignored directions to run hearth drills or set up hearth escapes.
The TRC recognized 4,100 youngsters who died on the faculties, although specialists imagine the true quantity is way greater. The aim of the establishments was to kill Indigenous tradition to make land and assets out there to settlers. The TRC concluded the apply was “cultural genocide”.
Anwer mentioned he felt compelled to behave on a human stage and since his religion instructs him to face with the oppressed, and in opposition to the oppressor. “It ought to disgust everybody who reads about this,” Anwer informed Al Jazeera. “They noticed these individuals as sub-human, our Indigenous household.”
Anwer mentioned many Canadians nonetheless don’t notice the extent of atrocity that was dedicated in these establishments. “I don’t even keep in mind studying about this in class,” he mentioned over the telephone Friday. “I keep in mind studying about D-Day, confederation, John A. Macdonald, all these figures, however I feel it was merely a footnote in historical past books, if even talked about. As Canadians, we have now to face this reckoning of this darkish historical past this nation was constructed upon.
“It’s not one thing that we brush underneath the rug,” he added.
Friday afternoon, Taha Ghayyur, government director of Justice For All Canada, delivered a sermon at a mosque in Mississauga, Ontario. As he defined what occurred in residential “faculties,” some individuals within the viewers nodded, others appeared upset, and some widened their eyes in shock. Ghayyur mentioned individuals approached him after to precise that that they had heard in regards to the current discoveries of mass graves, however had no concept why this was occurring.
“It wants to start out with consciousness, and this is the reason acknowledgement is step one,” Ghayyur mentioned. “Symbolically, it’s a really highly effective assertion coming from spiritual management.”
Ghayyur mentioned Muslim communities can relate to this — from Palestinians to Rohingya individuals to the Uighur neighborhood. He mentioned Uighur individuals in Canada informed him they have been “reliving” experiences of mass detention camps in Xinjiang as they discovered about residential “faculties” in Canada.
Addressing Indigenous communities, Ghayyur mentioned: “We share your ache — we have no idea your ache — however we want to be there in solidarity with you.”
“We stand with them, as a result of they’ve been wronged,” Anwer mentioned on the mosque Friday. “And we must, as a neighborhood, discover the braveness to face as much as the established order that allowed this to occur.”