November 25, 2011

Seven Years

Unfortunately, there is not much to show for the seventh anniversary of Irrelevant Opinions.  Someday, I'll update this.

May 16, 2011

Shadow and Flame

Slave Lake Mosque (apologies for my poor cellphone camera picture)
A few months ago, I wrote about my experiences in Slave Lake, Alberta, an isolated town in Northern Alberta that had a complicated relationship with its large Muslim community, including the arson of the former mosque in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. The Muslim community had since built a new mosque, a beautiful one that unfortunately suffered from an almost complete lack of participation. For the most part, the Muslims there had been overcome with fear and suspicion, and were afraid to attach themselves to a targeted site.

I awoke this morning to the news that the entire city is now burning, due to forest fires carried by heavy winds. While the residents have been safe alhamdulillah, their property and belongings have largely been destroyed.

The pictures depict many streets I've walked myself. The hardest hit areas appear to be those within walking distance of the mosque itself, so it is entirely likely that their beautiful mosque is among the ruins. I can only hope and pray that the community can find a way to pick up the pieces again, and that they work alongside neighbours to rebuild their town. It would be a powerful statement of mutual respect and cooperation that could insha-Allah help them overcome the distrust and fear that split the community over the last decade.

Important numbers

To donate toiletries, bedding call Edmonton Emergency Relief Services780-428-4422
To donate to Red Cross1-800-418-1111
To register as evacuee or to reach evacuees call Red Cross1-800-565-4483
Info on hospital patient evacuees1-866-301-2668
Wildfire information line1-866-916-INFO
WildFire Road Closure Hotline780-644-5653 or 310-4455
Source: CBC

May 03, 2011

Repost: Morning

Reposted from January 2006.

I woke up this morning and looked out the window as I always do. I looked upon the Canadian Parliament buildings, the famous Peace Tower rising above downtown office buildings. The flag perched above the tower blew in the wind, much like it has every other day.

Much has changed beneath that tower and flag, but the structure remains the same. The surroundings remain the same. The country looks the same. For the most part, the people have not changed. The government may have changed, but many things remain constant. My neighbours still smiled in the hallways. Strangers still chatted merrily on the bus. The Ottawa Senators beat the Maple Leafs again. Unfortunately, the Habs kept losing.

I stepped outside; the weather was warm, only a few degrees below zero. I slept well the night before; I was ready to put in a good days work.

The election may not have gone as I hoped, but things aren't so bad after all.

... except very little of this holds true today. Parliament is no longer outside my window. In fact, I woke up in a Toronto hotel on a gloomy, rainy, and unseasonably cold day. I didn't sleep particularly well. Neighbours didn't smile; instead, they cursed under their breath as they watched the morning news, and honked their horns on the highways. The Senators and Maple Leafs have both been relegated to insignificant bottom-feeders, and the Habs were eliminated from the playoffs last week.

All that being said, however, there is no point in moping. Because life goes on, and it is up to each individual to make the most of it. Things may not always go according to plan or desire, but such is life.

A Conservative majority may change many things for the country; for better or for worse remains to be seen. But what happens in the halls of power do not change the fact that I am ultimately responsible for myself. And who I am, who we all are, is what truly represents our country.