Vancouver mosque opens its doors as warming shelter for the homeless

Al Jamia Masjid, Vancouver city, British Columbia

The oldest mosque in the Canadian city of Vancouver has opened its doors as a warming shelter for the homeless and needy this winter.

Al Jamia Masjid is also offering sleeping bags and food at the mosque.

Haroon Khan, president of the Pakistan Canada Association and trustee of the Al Jamia Masjid said: “It’s a matter of feeling empathy for others, no matter the circumstances they find themselves in.

“Not much separates us from being outside on the street. Some people are few paycheques away from being homeless and addiction and mental illness are its own thing too.

“Sometimes people just need someone to talk to.

“It crosses all boundaries – all races, all religions. Everybody is affected one way or another.”

Permanent shelters in Vancouver are running out of room during the winter months, and has resulted in faith based groups to offer help.

Mr Khan’s 22-year-old nephew spearheaded the decision to open Al Jamia Masjid up to those in need and says he hopes it inspires more faith-based organisations to do the same.

Abu-Bakr Khan and his friends decided to go to the Downtown Eastside and ask community members what they need most.

More than 10 youths volunteered at the mosque at nights, delivering care packages to residents during the day.

About 500 blankets were delivered to residents last Wednesday.

Mr Abu-Bakr Khan told the Metro: “What we’re trying to do with this whole initiative is we want other religious institutions to open during extreme weather.”

 

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