Edmontonians from the Somali community gathered at two separate events on Sunday to work on peace, unity and providing positive role models for youth in light of recent attacks.
The Edmonton Mogadishu Crisis Response Team held a vigil and fundraiser at the Edmonton Islamic Academy at 14525 127 St. to raise money to help with burials of the 358 people who died and medical costs for the 400 injured in the Oct. 14 bombing in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, which they call “Somalia’s September 11.”
The group hopes to raise $100,000 for relief efforts.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Dr. Habiba Mohamud said there has never been a terrorist attack of that magnitude in the fragile country of Somalia.
“On behalf of the Somalis and well-wishers, we are extending our sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Mogadishu terror attacks,” Mohamud said.
While the enemy may have overpowered Somalis in the bombing, Somalis can support each other, she said.
“We’re going to pray together, cry together and show we are strong,” she said.
World Peace Awareness Conference
Meanwhile, members of the Somali community hosted a World Peace Awareness Conference at the Portuguese Hall at 12964 52 St. to discuss peace, law and living in Canada.
Youth groups, the Somaliland Cultural Association and the Somaliland women of Alberta spoke in support of peace following attacks in Edmonton and in Mogadishu.
Two Edmonton Police Service officers were present at the event as the community showed support for law enforcement.
Co-organizer Captain Abdul said it was important to pay respects to injured police officer Const. Mike Chernyk and citizens who were hit by an attacker in a car and a U-Haul in Edmonton on Sept. 30.
Mohamoud Jama moved to Edmonton in 1975 from Somaliland. He said he hopes to educate people in the Somali community that police in Canada help and there aren’t the same repercussions for reporting crimes.
“The police there are not the police here in Canada, so people are apprehensive,” Jama said, adding in Somaliland people considered police to be the oppressor.
At one time, Edmonton was called the graveyard of Somalis, but the community and police have been working hard to improve the relationship in the past few years.
Jama said the details of Edmonton’s attack will come out in court.
“We want to instil a sense of peace because the Somalis are, in general, very peaceful,” Jama said, adding the attack perpetrated by a Somali refugee was an exception, not the rule.
On the attack in Mogadishu, Jama said the reaction has not been to the same extent as other terrorist attacks.
Peace begins at home
Community member Khadar Jama said he believes peace starts with the family unit and parents play the biggest role.
He said it’s important to provide good role models for youth. He said he wants to see representation in institutions with Somali teachers, police and politicians.
As a mother, Amissa Jama is grateful for what Canada has given, but is also fearful for her children after the attack in Edmonton.
Passing along a peaceful tradition is important for tomorrow’s leaders, said Hussein Sugulle, who works with youth. Sugulle said it’s important for community members to make time to come together and pray together.
“Having this beautiful peace, especially in Edmonton, these are things we have to acknowledge,” he said.
Zeinab Omar wanted to be at the event to show solidarity. Although she was born in Somalia, Canada is her home and she said it’s important as a Canadian to defend justice and the law.
“I accomplished a lot here in Canada because we have peace here,” she said. “Here in Canada we have a justice system. We have law and order. We support that.”
She came to Canada as a newlywed in 1991 with a two-month-old and had nothing, but Canada welcomed her with open arms.
“This is my country now, I have to defend it,” Omar said.
“I’m not with people who want to jeopardize this for us.”