‘I still can’t believe that is the Alberta I grew up in’: Muslim Canadian shocked by racist attacks


Muslims across Canada are marking the second Ramadan during the pandemic.

The month is considered a time to practice kindness and patience. Muslims are asking the same of every other Canadian. The past year has been a frightening one for many victims of racist remarks and violent attacks.

Since December 2020, there have been a number of physical attacks against Muslim women in Edmonton and Calgary.

Last month, an Edmonton, Alta., family was the target of road rage. Edmonton police said a male driver made profane gestures to a woman wearing a hijab who was in the front passenger seat of a different vehicle.

“The accused male then began speeding up and slowing down erratically next to the complainant’s van, before eventually causing a minor collision between the two vehicles,” police said in a news release.

Police said it was alleged religious slurs were uttered to the family.

“I still can’t believe that is the Alberta I grew up in,” said Dany Assaf, a Toronto lawyer and author who was raised in Edmonton, “because the Alberta I grew up in was one where if you worked hard and gave back, you were an Albertan. Period.

Assaf, 51, said like many other Canadian kids, he grew up playing hockey and learned to “say please and thank you and stand in line“– the title of Assaf’s newly published book.

The biography unfolds four generations of a Muslim family in Canada and “one man’s story of what makes Canada special and how to keep it that way.”

Assaf’s great-grandparents immigrated to Alberta in the 1920s from Lebanon. They helped establish the first mosque in Canada, the Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton.