National Post columnist Colby Cosh’s take on the ways in which Saturday’s alleged terror attack has affected Edmontonians (or, more to the point, hasn’t really affected anyone not directly injured) is spot on.
Edmonton has not just been home to Muslims for many decades (it had a mosque 30 years before Toronto did); Muslims have been an accepted part of its cultural and political life for longer than anyone can remember. I will happily bet you that there are still northern Alberta farmers who have never exchanged two words with any black person, but who go to the same Muslim accountant of Lebanese or Syrian origin that their father did. There was a time when the possibility of a “division” in my world, with Muslims on an opposite side of it, would never have occurred to me as an Edmonton native.
He’s right. Muslim people are not, among most normal Albertans, seen as some exotic other. They’re our neighbours and have been here since practically the start of settler-colonization. They’ve been some of the biggest builders of our community, at least in Edmonton.
To see Canadian Muslims as an enemy is a concept that does not compute for many in this city. And that’s a good thing. That’s how it should continue to be and how it likely will remain.
Cosh concludes the column with a good summary of why this is:
Of course we “stand together” with Muslims. Much of the time Edmonton, cold and utilitarian, presents itself to us as a laborious, common predicament, even a trap. We do not just stand together: we are huddled together against Nature, practitioners of a civil religion involving block heaters and boot rooms and thermoses full of coffee. If you live this way, explicit talk of togetherness and community can feel like a faux pas. No doubt the truth is that I would just prefer to fast-forward to a time when we can do without it again.