October marks both Canadian Islamic History Month and Women’s History Month, offering us an opportunity to explore the stories of Muslim women who have led the way in building our communities and the quality of life we all enjoy. These include the very dynamic and determined Hilwie Hamdon, who blazed a trail for Canada’s Muslim women to follow.
Hilwie immigrated from Lebanon in 1923 and settled with her husband, Ali, in Fort Chipewyan before moving to Edmonton ten years later. At the time, there were fewer than 700 Muslims in Canada. Hilwie had a tremendous gift for bringing people together and soon found herself spearheading efforts by the local Ladies’ Muslim Society to raise funds for what would become Canada’s first Mosque. Her ability to foster community connections led to support for the project from people of all faiths, cultures and walks of life. The ladies’ contributions proved to be instrumental and the Al-Rashid Mosque was officially opened in 1938. After this first building was replaced in the 1980s, Hilwie once again led the way, standing up against racism and galvanizing community support to have the original historic Mosque relocated to Fort Edmonton Park where it now stands. Watch a video to learn more.
Hilwie’s story, and the legacies of each of our Muslim community builders, remind us that everyone has a role to play in making our home a welcoming and inclusive place for all people. As His Majesty the King’s representative in Alberta, I offer my heartfelt thanks to those who have shaped our history, and those who work to ensure that their legacies can continue to inspire generations of community leaders to come.
Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani AOE, B.Sc., LLD (hon), Lieutenant Governor of Alberta