In 2020, Ramadan came at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the lockdown in full swing, Muslims in the Eastern Townships could not establish important Ramadan traditions including congregational prayers and multi-family Iftars (Arabic term for meal of breaking the fast). In 2021, the imposed curfew prohibited Muslims from their night congregational prayers (Taraweeh) which are unique to Ramadan. This year will be different and there is much to celebrate and to be grateful for.
Being a small minority scattered across the townships, Muslims represent a diverse group of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In Sherbrooke there are two main mosques that collectively serve hundreds of families. There’s also a strong presence at Université de Sherbrooke which hosts the student club, L’Association des Étudiants Musulmans de l’Université de Sherbrooke. This year, these organizations will be able to hold regular Iftars, night prayers and Eid celebrations. These activities are not only important for the adults, but they are equally, if not more important for children.
As a child of immigrant parents, I struggled considerably during grade school when it came to observing my traditions and feeling the joy that others felt during their own celebrations. I, like many other children, was wowed by Christmas decorations and the accompanying atmosphere. At school, numerous activities were held around Christmas time that meant so much to those who celebrated Christmas. I wasn’t envious; I just wanted to have the opportunity to share my joy with others and feel accepted. It wasn’t easy at that time, but for my children today, things are different. We decorate our home, both inside and outside with lights and traditional ornaments. We talk to our kids’ teachers about Ramadan and in turn they talk about it in their classrooms. We give candies and gifts to our children to distribute to their classmates as a way to spread their happiness and joy. Muslim children will have a lot to celebrate this year and they will surely spread that joy to those around them.
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