Chatham-Kent has a new Islamic Centre and Mosque — a direct reflection of the diversifying demographics in southwestern Ontario.
Chatham Islamic Centre opened in mid-February. The building was the former St. James Presbyterian Church. Now, it functions as a place of worship, education in the Islamic faith and culture. It is also a meeting place for the growing Muslim community in the region.
"A big community is growing here - about 100 to 120 and we didn't really have a place to put us together under one roof to do activities and share the teachings of Islam,” said Ahmed Amiry, a member of the mosque and executive secretary for the centre. “The second benefit is really — it's the attraction of people outside the community."
According to Amiry, although new, there is a growing interest and support from locals for the organization and the facility.
“We are very thankful to the help of the Presbyterian Church [group] for helping us acquire this building as a place of worship and teaching of our faith,” said Amiry.
For the Muslim community in Chatham-Kent, the Chatham Islamic Centre will be a focal point for its members to localize their faith practices, attend to community needs and continue to enhance inter-faith partnerships that already exist.
For Rizwan Khan, executive treasurer for the centre, there is a hope that this will mark the beginning of a generational focal point for growth for new and old Muslim Canadians.
"People from our faith [will] - come here, to learn, to share knowledge and also to - to grow as a community and support the community at large, for Chatham-Kent."
More information about the Chatham Islamic Centre is available on the centre's website.