Muslims share colourful array of stories at end of Ramadan in Yellowknife

From an Inuvik Muslim-convert to newcomers from Alberta and Algeria, there was a diverse range of Muslims gathering for Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Yellowknife on Wednesday.

Eid al-Fitr starts on Wednesday, marking the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan

Muslims gathered at Yellowknife's William McDonald School on Wednesday to celebrate the end of Ramadan. (CBC)

Mary Apsimik is Inuvialuit. And almost 20 years ago, she converted to Islam from Christianity.

"I met my Somali husband in Inuvik," she says, adorned in a light blue headscarf that drapes over her patterned dress.

Mary Apsimik is Inuvialuit. She met her Somali husband in Inuvik. (CBC)
"I wasn't sure, so I asked my father," says Apsimik, recalling her contemplation on dating someone of a different faith. "He said this might be a good change. And it was!"

Vibrant pinks, melon greens and sparkling slate-gray hijabs — headscarves worn by some Muslim women — flooded the gymnasium at Yellowknife's William McDonald School on Wednesday.

Like the colourful array, Yellowknife's Muslim community had diverse stories to share at their end of Ramadan celebration.

The city's Muslim congregation, which started off with just a handful of people, has grown into a community of more than 150.

For the past 20 years, they gathered to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic holiday marking the end of a month-long fast.

"Hopefully it will keep growing, Inshallah [In God's will]," says Nazim Awan, the president of the Islamic Centre of Yellowknife.

A child at the Ramadan celebration in Yellowknife. (CBC)

'I felt starving... And then I slept forever'

"I felt starving," says 10-year-old Amna Idris, who fasted three days for Ramadan. "But when we got to the actual eating at the end of the day, it was like, amazing. And then I slept forever. But then I realized I've got classes to go to and chores to do."

Asfa Arshad, 10, fasted the whole 30 days for the first time, despite her parents' concerns.

Asfa Arshad, 10, fasted the whole 30 days for the first time. (CBC)
"My parents thought I was too young, but I made them listen to me, and I would stay up and fast," says Arshad, who recalled Canada Day as the hardest moment during Ramadan.

"There was so much food! And someone brought lemonade for us and I was gonna drink it and my mom was like 'No!'"

'Home away from home'

"This is my first Ramadan here in Yellowknife," says Syed Shah, 44, who moved to town a couple of months ago from Fort McMurray, Alta. His family moved to Yellowknife for his business, and since the wildfire they've decided to stay in the city permanently.

"It's home away from home," says Shah.

Karim Hamada, 24, is an international student from Algeria who came to Canada in December 2014, and described it as "so, so cold."

"I miss back home. It's different here, especially during Ramadan you can feel it," says Hamada, glancing around the gym.

"But when we gather all together, it's like my second family."

Muslims gathering for Eid al-Fitr celebrations. (CBC)