Calgary’s Ismaili Muslim community held a distinguished, and also very well attended Stampede breakfast and Eid Al-Adha celebration on Saturday.
StampEid, featured the usuals—the traditional scrambled eggs and pancakes—alongside oft-not-seen Stampede fare, Bharazi.
“As an expert in Midway foods, all things fried or covered in syrup, I’m gonna have to definitely check it out,” said Calgary Stampede President and CEO Steve McDonough.
President for the Prairies region for the Ismaili Council of Canada, Fauzia Lalani, said that Calgarians came together for StampEid to build on their common humanity and ethical heritage to celebrate an optimistic hopeful future.
“Today being Eid Al-Adha during the Calgary Stampede was a wonderful opportunity to continue our tradition of contributing to Calgary’s cultural mosaic and sharing pluralistic values,” she said.
More than a thousand people lined up for breakfast after Mayor Jyoti Gondek declared StampEid open. Organizers said they expected more than 6,000 people to attend.
Dozens of politicians from Canada and the US attended
Politicians of all political stripes and parties attended the breakfast.
Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani, also Canada’s first Muslim Lieutenant Governor and a member of the Ismaili Muslim community, attended the breakfast along side US Ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen, Canada’s Minister of Tourism Randy Boissonnault, Premier Jason Kenney, Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and Edmonton’s Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
Members of Parliment also joined their provincial counterpart MLAs and civic councillors from both Calgary and Edmonton. As did former Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Minister Boissonnault used the occasion to announce formally to Calgary’s Islamic community that work towards ending in Islamophobia in the nation was continuing.
“So my friends, let’s just say that as we’re celebrating Stampede, and as we acknowledge the contribution of the Ismaili community to Canada, and the contribution of Muslim Canadians to Canada, that we also have to acknowledge that we must step up and combat Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred,” he said.
“It’s real, we’re going to face it, we’re going to tackle it and that’s why we will appoint a special representative to combat Islamophobia in this country.”
The federal government quietly announced the position would be created back in January of this year. Selection for that position began on July 6.
25 years of cultural diversity
StampEid had more than 300 volunteers involved in making the breakfast.
Volunteer Asha Nenshi-Nathoo said that it was a wonderful way of celebrating Calgary’s diversity.
“There’s been a lot of isolation, and also a lot of division we’ve seen, so I think that this is a wonderful way to come together and celebrate the spirit of both the Ismaili community, and the shared values that the Ismaili community and the Calgary community have together,” she said.
For the breakfast’s 25th year, they partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association, which was also featured in the community’s parade float.
Speaking to that decision to partner with the CMHA, Lalani said that was in large part due to two-years of the pandemic leaving a mark on people’s mental health.
“Our partnership with CMHA Calgary is particularly meaningful to the Ismaili community because of our own commitment to building mental resilience, and also breaking the stigma,” she said.
Desire for community
Nenshi-Nathoo said that the incredible turnout, which at times backed right up onto Deerfoot Trail from the McKnight Boulevard entrance, spoke to the craving for community.
“It’s really nice for the community to be able to come together, and meet new people, meet their neighbours. I think that’s really what people are longing for right now after two years of the pandemic,” she said.
“This event, really is an inspiring event to create that sense of community that our world needs right now.”
Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said that his main reason for attending StampEid was to support diversity at Stampede events.
“It’s a time in which I think if you are on the outside looking in, you wouldn’t understand the diversity of people who support the different events and the culture that people are leaning into here in Calgary,” he said.
“So whenever events like these come on, and you get to see a really diverse crowd support every aspect of Stampede, I want to be present for it.”
He said that support needs to come in more than just serious conversations, which communities are having, but also in celebrations like that of Eid Al-Adha.