New mosque in Saint John first of its kind in Canada
Cozy, small but 'much appreciated' new mosque for Syrian refugees
The home of a former business has been converted into a mosque in Saint John for a unique reason.
Toronto filmmaker Himy Syed discovered the modest-looking mosque on Somerset street in Saint John on his travels for his project, 30 Masjids (mosques) in Canada,.
According to those behind it, it's the first of its kind in Canada — established specifically for Syrian refugees.
"They needed a place to pray that was convenient. Many of them don't have cars or have other means of getting to the main Muslim Association of New Brunswick masjid over in Rothesay," said Syed.
Former surgical supply building
The building was formerly the home of ABC Surgical Supplies,and that business's sign still hangs over the entrance — even after its conversion to a mosque.
Two months ago the community came together and formed a non-profit organization called IRCC (Immigrant Relief Community Centre), and the building was leased with an option to buy.
"Everyone came in and helped and it's been a blessing so far," said Abdullah DeLancey, the treasurer for IRCC.
The presence of the mosque is much appreciated by the Syrian refugees who make up 90 per cent of the attendees.
"It's just walking distance here so we can come as often as we can. As often as we want. And the other one was always just too far for us," he said.
The city's existing mosque on Rothesay Road, built 40 years ago, was funded by 15 local Muslim families.
The organization plans on buying the new building and renovating it.
It will be used not only as a mosque, but as a learning and community centre as well.
"They have found a great place to worship. A great place to socialize. They have already had some classes in English and other subjects so they are happy," said DeLancey.