Muneeb Nasir, OnIslam Correspondent
TORONTO - Joining hands with their non-Muslim neighbors, Muslims in Canada’s largest city of Toronto have taken part in a national environmental program to reduce the harmful effect of litter on fragile aquatic ecosystems.
“Shoreline cleanups are important because they are a tangible means to mitigate pollution, reduce threats to wildlife and ecological health, and reconnect people with nature to help keep our shared waters sustainable,” Aasiya Hussain of Ecohesian Inc. and Site Coordinator of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at the Finch Meander site told OnIslam.net.
At the Finch Meander in the Rouge Park community, located in the north-east of the Toronto, a number of Muslim groups collaborated this weekend in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
Among participating groups are CivicMuslims, Khaleafa.com, Canadian Muslim Fellowship of Scouting, Islamic Institute of Toronto and Pickering Islamic Center.
During the cleanup, participants removed harmful items from the shorelines of a small river, near the north end of the Metro Toronto Zoo, and recorded the type and amount of litter they collected on data cards.
“From our rivers, to our lakes, to our oceans - water connects us all,” Hussain said.
“And as Canadians, we have a strong connection with water.
“Our nation has the longest shoreline in the world, 20% of the world’s freshwater, and 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply - we’re also blessed with breathtakingly beautiful and essential natural capital.”
In 2002, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup emerged as a national program, providing all Canadians the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities.
Shoreline Cleanups started appearing in every province and territory, and by 2011, the Shoreline Cleanup celebrated its 18th anniversary with more than 56,000 volunteers.
Over the following years, the program continued to expand its reach and influence, aided by the support of sponsors, donors, and partners, such as WWF Canada, who became a full partner of the Shoreline Cleanup in 2010.
Today, it is recognized as one of the largest direct action conservation programs, as well as the most significant contributor to the International Coastal Cleanup in Canada.
Meanwhile, a group of students from the University of Toronto came out to another site at Cherry Beach to take part in the Shoreline Cleanup as part of a monthly program that seeks to actualize virtues through a community service project.
“Our Shoreline Cleanup was organized by the Multi-Faith Center and Volunteering with Virtue, with help from a number of other organizations, including Common Ground Project, Hillel, Muslim Students' Association, and Faiths Act, UofT,” Ishraq Alim, one of the student organizers, told OnIslam.net.
“Volunteering with Virtue is a once-a-month project that brings together students and youth of different faith backgrounds to discuss common virtues and to work together on a community service project,” he said.
“This month's theme was Environmental Preservation.”
Following the cleanup, the students reflected on the day’s project.
“We discussed what we came out of the event,” said Alim.
“Some students were quite impressed at the efforts of Toronto Parks Services at keeping the beaches clean, while others were quite surprised by the level of small and unusual items that were left on the beach, such as cigarette butts, drinking straws, personal hygiene material and a coconut.”
Participants have praised cooperation between followers of different faiths in preserving environment.
“The efforts of today’s volunteers and supporters from various faith-based, environmental, business, educational, and outdoor communities were inspiring,” Hussain said.
“Our collective efforts became a tangible means to keep our shared waters and environment sustainable, while leaving a positive national legacy for generations to come.”