We are non-partisan and non-denominational, and aim to reach all Canadian Muslim communities regardless of geography, language, ethnicity, ability or socioeconomic status. We provide a platform to foster collaboration and communication between Canadian-Muslim community leaders, Imams, experts and organizations. We also collaborate with other COVID-19 task forces, public health, health care organizations and all 3 levels of government to help Canadians get through this pandemic.
The task force was born after a bold and unprecedented proactive call for the suspension of large prayers in congregation on Friday March 13th, 2020, across the country in advance of the lockdown announcement, by the Muslim Medical Association of Canada, the Canadian Council of Imams and concerned community leaders. This was based on the critical role that gatherings played in COVID-19 outbreaks and local evidence of community transmission.
During the initial lockdown in Spring 2020 and when our communities had just reopened, we supported religious leadership and communities to find ways to safely observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.
Although COVID-19 does not choose or target specific religious groups, Canadian Muslims and many other communities that enrich Canada have different ways of life, which manifests with different exposures and risks of contracting and suffering the consequences of COVID-19. The Canadian Muslim community is a heterogenous group of 1 million Canadians with significant racial, ethnocultural and religious diversity.
Official guidance and recommendations that were released have either been generic, delayed, or difficult to follow for diverse communities that adopt different ways of life. Different communities access, understand and act upon health information differently. In a rapidly evolving situation with recommendations and guidance often changing with little notice and without clarity or consistency, confusion and lower uptake are likely to ensue. Materials and messaging that come from trusted voices in the community, in different languages, rapidly shared through various popular communication mediums, and in culturally-sensitive formats are more likely to be readily implemented.
The work of our task force members has included a number of initiatives:
Developing contextualized and culturally appropriate guidance for Canadian Muslims and mosques
Social media campaigns in different languages sharing public health messaging and fighting misinformation
Town halls and webinars with stakeholders
Helping inform provincial and regional public health guidelines and recommendations
Sharing resources, experiences and lessons learned with international Muslim and other community COVID-19 task forces.