Ottawa

Ottawa groups help serve Eid lamb to Muslim foster children

Three Ottawa organizations are providing two dozen lambs to families looking after Muslim children in an attempt to ensure no child is left out during this year's Eid al-Adha festivities.

24 lambs to be distributed to families to help educate foster children about Eid

A butcher carves up a lamb minutes after it was slaughtered for the Eid festival. A similar process will ensue in Ottawa this weekend to provide meat for 24 families. (Nahlah Ayed/CBC)

Three Ottawa organizations are providing two dozen lambs to families looking after Muslim children in an attempt to ensure no child is left out during this year's Eid al-Adha festivities.

The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, the Children's Aid Foundation of Ottawa and the Muslim Family Services of Ottawa have paid a butcher almost $9,000 to prepare the meat for the religious holiday, which runs from Friday to Sunday.

The meat will be dropped off on Saturday, after being slaughtered the day before.

Eid celebrations include sacrificing a healthy lamb and distributing the meat among family and community members, but Muslim children in foster care often miss out on the tradition. 

Many Muslims wear their best clothes, observe a special prayer and spend the day celebrating with food.

"This is something that we should be doing. This is something that they need," Shawana Shah, the executive director of Muslim Family Services of Ottawa, told CBC Radio's All in a Day Wednesday. 

'It's a teaching opportunity'

It's the second year of the initiative, which came about as the three groups talked about how to better address the needs of children in foster care.

It's not just a Muslim occasion. It's a teaching opportunity and a celebration.- Shawana Shah

Shah said many logistical issues have been ironed out since then. They're better at coordinating the pickup and drop-off of the meat, she said, as well as dividing up the portions. 

According to tradition, Shah said, the lamb meat is split into three groups: one portion for friends, one for family and one for the community. 

Shah said a highlight of last year's initiative was watching a little boy donate part of his lamb to the food bank, where a Syrian family looking for halal meat was able to pick it up. 

"Being able to help somebody and just see that need and the joy that comes out of that was [powerful]," she said.

There were also workshops and activities held in the days leading up to Eid to help the children understand the significance of the meat when it arrives, Shah added. 

"It's not just a Muslim occasion," she said. "It's a teaching opportunity and a celebration."

now