Winnipeg’s Eid celebrations branch out to 5 locations after convention centre unavailable
Eid, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is typically celebrated in Winnipeg with a gathering of thousands at the RBC Convention Centre, but organizers had to find alternative locations this year as the convention centre was booked.
“Ultimately, we almost gave up,” said Manitoba Islamic Association chair Khawja Latif.
This week, the space in the convention centre where Eid prayers are usually held the convention centre is hosting a Manitoba dental convention.
After searching for a new venue, the Manitoba Islamic Association organizers decided to hold this year’s Eid prayers on Friday in multiple locations across the city.
“We don’t have any other place in the whole entire Winnipeg, or close to Winnipeg, where you can hold this kind of prayer of … 14,000 people. That’s not possible,” said Latif.
Prayers will be held at the Assiniboia Downs Event Centre, Dakota Community Centre, the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, the University of Winnipeg RecPlex and Chalmers Community Centre.
Prayers at each location start at different times, with the biggest location — Assiniboia Downs — offering prayer times at 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friday.
Prayer times for other locations can be found on the Islamic Association’s website.
Giving back to community
This year’s Eid prayer is only the second to be held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, after restrictions meant large public gatherings couldn’t be held in 2020 and 2021.
“I remember during the two years of the pandemic … it definitely didn’t feel like it normally does,” said Sedra Al Manni, 17.
“For me, a big part of Eid is seeing friends and distant family and just hanging out with a bunch of people,” she said in an interview with CBC.
Ramadan is also a time to reflect on commitment to faith, she said.
“It’s a month to get away from distractions a little bit … which is why we fast, to kind of focus more on our faith and religion,” she said.
“I reflect on some habits that I have that I want to work towards not having anymore … within those 30 days. It’s a good time to build new, better habits.”
The Weekend Morning Show (Manitoba)6:41Youth group collecting toys for Eid al-Fitr
Latif says Ramadan is a time for family, but is also a time to give back to the community.
“This month I have taken almost a week or two leave from work, and most of the time I’m doing volunteering, working with other organizations,” he said.
Al Manni helped organize a drive to collect toys that will be given out during Eid this year.
“By having the toy drive, we can also give those children who are less fortunate the feeling of Eid, and receiving gifts on this day,” she said.
“A lot of kids came and helped and were really excited to wrap [the gifts] … which was really nice to see.”
Time to come together
Eid is not only a time for the Muslim community to come together and celebrate, but also an opportunity for non-Muslim Winnipeggers to learn about their faith.
Premier Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham are expected to attend the Eid prayer at Assiniboia Downs Centre, which Latif says speaks to just how open Canada and Winnipeg has been to Muslims.
“In the last 10 to 15 years, due to conflicts in Muslim countries and many other reasons, Canada has opened their doors, opened their minds and their support to all these displaced people,” he said.
“If you look at the support from the province, from the city, from the federal government, it is so immense, I have to thank them from my heart that we are being welcomed and being well accommodated.”
As for next year, Latif says he hopes the Eid prayers can return to the RBC Convention Centre.
“We immensely enjoy having the Eid celebrations at the centre,” said RBC Convention Centre president Drew Fisher.
“It’s just unfortunately this year we didn’t have the space [available],” he said, but “we’re looking forward to having them next year.”
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