Kalim Ahmed, Media Coordinator, Imarat Calgary, Canada
Since 2004, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Calgary, Canada has been holding annual tabligh (preaching) events in various smaller towns and villages. This has resulted in tremendously blessed outcomes in reaching out to a much larger and receptive audience to introduce Islam’s peaceful teachings and develop cordial relations with community leaders and influencers from all walks of life.
One such initiative which has been established since 2008 is the “North Tabligh Tour”. In this tour, a dedicated team from Calgary travels to the extreme northern towns of Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories, and holds outreach events and interfaith conferences in these regions.
Continuing the tradition, this year, a 21-member delegation embarked on a four-day journey to hold events in Grande Prairie AB, Peace River AB, Dawson Creek BC, Hay River NT, K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve NT, and Yellowknife NT.
A pre-event visit to prepare for these events was made earlier, the detailed report of which was published in the 26 August 2022 issue of Al Hakam, titled “Seven days and 5500 km to spread Ahmadiyyat’s message to First Nation peoples in Canada”.
The theme of the events to be held was “Absolute justice and global peace”. Given the current condition where the world is becoming ever more restless, bloodshed and mayhem are increasing. Scant attention is being paid towards discharging the rights of others. Fear and respect for the law seem to be diminishing and street crime is on the rise. Despite the facilities of communication, walls of hatred have been erected and hearts are being distanced from each other. The effects of the economic depression are unfolding day by day and the cost of living is increasing. Animosity and feelings of hatred are growing amongst various strata of society and nations.
Presenters from faith and non-faith-based communities were asked to address the following questions:
• What are the root causes of the unrest prevailing in society, the looming financial crisis and the increase in selfishness at every level?
• Why it is vital to uphold the standards of equity and justice to establish peace on a societal and global level.
• Do scriptures warn of a time when nations would come on the verge of a global calamity and what do they advise to avert it?
• What do the scriptures and oral traditions say to discharge due rights in fairness on personal, societal, national and global levels to fulfil the obligations of justice?
• What are the teachings and traditions to promote love and affection and to remove enmity from society?
• How do we build a peaceful multicultural society, where people of all faiths, races and beliefs can live side by side with mutual respect?
The delegation left Calgary on the evening of 16 September 2022, where the local amir led a silent prayer at the Baitun Nur mosque. The team stayed overnight at Bait-ul-Hadi, Edmonton where three local members also joined the team. From here, the team spread in three directions.
Grande Prairie, AB
The first event of this series was held in Grande Prairie, AB. Grande Prairie is a major urban centre in Northwest Alberta located approximately 456 km from Edmonton. The 7th Annual World Religions Conference was held at the Northwestern Polytechnic, which is the largest educational institution in the region. Scholars from Christianity, Aboriginal Spirituality, Humanist Philosophy and Islam presented their viewpoints on the topic. The mayor of the town, HW Jackie Clayton, who couldn’t attend the event in person, sent her deputy mayor to bring greetings to the participants of the conference. The attendees, representing the intelligentsia and general public, showed keen interest in the Islamic perspective and asked various questions. The audience stayed late after the event and engaged in one-on-one discussions with the presenters and organisers.
Dawson Creek, BC
The second event was held in Dawson Creek, BC. Dawson Creek is a city of about 13,000 people in Northeastern British Columbia. It is also known as the “Mile Zero City”, referring to its location at the southern end of the Alaska Highway. The 5th Annual World Religions Conference was held at the prestigious Energy House at the Northern Lights College. This was the first time this event was organised at this leading educational institute, for which the college president and the teaching and administrative staff extended full support.
The presenters from Christianity and Islam shared their viewpoints at the conference. The conference was widely publicised through fliers. The local media also published the conference news, enabling the peaceful message of Islam to reach thousands of readers.
Peace River, AB
The third event of the day was held in the Northern Alberta town of Peace River. Peace River is a town of 7000 people approximately 486 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Calgary Jamaat has developed strong connections with the community leaders in this town. The town council visited the Baitun Nur Mosque in 2009.
The 7th annual World Religions Conference was held at a local hotel. The conference was widely advertised through fliers. Representatives from Christianity and Islam spoke at the event. Councillor Mark Boychuk presented the special message on behalf of the town council, welcoming this forum. The attendees took a special interest in Islamic presentations and asked questions regarding Islamic beliefs about the death of Jesusas and his second coming.
After successfully holding the three events, the teams travelled to Hay River, NT, where Chief April Martel was our host for the next three days at the K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve.
The next event was scheduled at YellowknifeNT. This was the 14th Annual World Religions Conference in the capital city of the Northwest Territories. By the grace of Allah, the consistent efforts of Jamaat have established its presence and the World Religions Conference is well known among the community leaders, intelligentsia, religious clergy and citizens from all walks of life. The past three mayors of the city have been participating in and moderating the conference for about a decade and a half. The current Premier of the Northwest Territories has also attended the event in person. This year’s conference was planned at the prestigious Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. This beautiful auditorium is offered to the Jamaat at no cost due to the educational and community-building nature of the event.
The Christian, Humanist, First Nation and Muslim representatives addressed the event. The renowned scholar and Truth & Reconciliation Commissioner, Dr Marie Wilson, was also among the speakers. The sitting mayor of the town, HW Rebecca Alty, moderated the conference. Members representing a cross-section of society were in attendance. The event was widely publicised through fliers while local media, including CBC, which aired news and features conveying the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat to a wider audience.
In her message after the event, Mayor Alty thanked the organisers for another great conference at Yellowknife and their message of support for her being acclaimed as mayor for the next term.
K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve, NT
The next morning, the Jamaat hosted a friendship BBQ to honour our hosts at the K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve. The BBQ was attended by a large number of community members, including Chief April Martel and other prominent leaders. The members of the travelling team spent quality time with the leadership and had one-on-one discussions on various matters of mutual interest. The tabligh team offered to establish a scholarship at the local school on the reserve.
During the day, members of the team also distributed fliers in the town centre, consisting of an introduction to Islam Ahmadiyyat.
Town of Hay River, NT
On the same evening, a World Religions Conference was held in the town of Hay River. The event was moderated by the mayor of the town, HW Kandis Jameson, while representatives from Aboriginal Spirituality, Christianity and Islam addressed the audience. The participants took great interest in the Islamic presentation and asked several questions during and after the programme over the refreshments.
This blessed tour concluded with this last event. The team experienced the help of Allah throughout this journey of four days and nights and approximately 3800km to travel.