ISNA Canada hosted a plenary session on relationship building between Indigenous and Muslim communities at its recently concluded annual convention this past weekend in Mississauga.
Cat Criger, an Aboriginal Elder, Traditional Teacher and Mentor from the First Nations People addressed the convention.
Criger is Cayuga (Guyohkohnyoh), Turtle Clan of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse.
Following the plenary session, a number of convention participants engaged in a learning circle with Cat Criger to explore ways of learning about the history of this land from Aboriginal Elders and leaders.
Cat Criger was taught in the old way, working for many years with the guidance of an Aniishnawbe Elder (Zaawawagaabo) and other First Nations Elders, and was taught to do traditional ceremonies, teachings, circles, one to one work and to help all people to ‘walk in a good way’ though life.
“The Canadian Muslim community, to remain faithful to the divine injunction of enjoining justice (‘adl), cannot ignore the historical and current injustices brought on the Indigenous peoples by colonization and centuries of successive immigration, as well as their fundamental contributions to the essential character of this country,” said Muslim leader, Dawood Zwink, in his opening remarks.
“This session will provide an opportunity to learn about the history and truth of this land directly from First Nations Elders and leaders.”
Asma Ali, a Muslim community activist, addressed the convention about the initiatives that have been ongoing between Aboriginal and Muslim communities over the past decade.
“Here in Canada, Indigenous communities have suffered many indignities resulting from State sanctioned racism, such as residential schools, systematic marginalization and contempt for individual and collective rights, over policing and the criminalization of ethnicity, segregation and disparate distribution of resources,” Muneeb Nasir told the convention.
“We undertake the beginning of a journey,” Nasir added. “We seek to develop a relationship of understanding and reciprocity between the Aboriginal communities and the Muslim communities of Canada.”