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A different kind of Canada Day celebration in Vaughan

More than 1,000 flags were planted in the ground at the Baitul Islam Mosque in Vaughan
July 2, 2021
Simon Martin

Canada Day was a little different at the Baitul Islam Mosque in Vaughan this year. During non-COVID-19 years, there are usually crowds of more than 1,000 people that come out to the mosque to celebrate the Canada Day festivities.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at spokesperson Safwan Choudhry said things were also different this year due to recent revelations about Indigenous children. He said the event had a more reflective atmosphere this year.

“There are over 1,000 flags planted into the ground, symbolic markings for each of the Indigenous children lost,” Choudhry said, in reference to the discovery in Kamloops of 215 children and the 751 unmarked graves discovered in Saskatchewan at former residential school sites.

While there were some people there in person, others joined virtually from across Canada to support and reflect on the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Virtual messages were also delivered by politicians, including Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, King-Vaughan MP Deb Schulte, Vaughan-Woodbridge MP Francesco Sorbara, Thornhill MPP Gila Martow and Vaughan Coun. Marilyn Iafrate.

National president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Canada Lal Khan Malik urged attendees to be thankful but not content.

“We must remember that Canada is a great country, but it has its dark spots,” he said. “While we have so much to be thankful for, there is a lot of work to do.”

Malik said the discoveries in Kamloops and Saskatchewan were difficult to accept and comprehend. Moving forward, he cited implementing the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee as a good place to start.