Maritimers took to the streets on Saturday, showing support for Muslims and refugees in their communities with rallies taking place in Charlottetown, Saint John and Fredericton.
Fredericton welcomed more refugees in 2016, per capita, than any other Canadian city. People gathered for Saturday’s march to make sure those newcomers and the entire Muslim community, feel safe and secure in the city they've chosen to call home.
Syrian refugee Ali Bakhash just arrived in Fredericton on Thursday.
“All the people in Canada, all the people - one family,” he says.
His brother, Mohammad has been in the city for almost a year and desperately wanted his brother to join him. He says the timing of the rallies couldn't be better.
“I am here today to show my brother, who's still a new arrival, that Canadian people all the time surrounded us with lovely feelings with the support that you are real partners in this community,” he says. “Even though you are still (a) newcomer, you are our partners.”
Over 200 people showed up in Saturday’s -15 degree weather, rallying against islamophobia and Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries.
In a late day development Friday, the ban was lifted by a United States judge. While many at the Fredericton rally were pleased by the news, some say more needs to be done.
“The idea of open doors and open borders is so important,” says rally organizer Asaf Rashid. “People who need a place to go have to be able to go someplace where they feel safe.”
For Faris Saadah and his mom, who are from Jordan, seeing the crowd meant a great deal.
"I just want to tell everybody that came here, thank you,” says Faris. “I really feel loved and it just means a lot that people are supporting Muslims."
The rally saw one disruption, when a man with a megaphone tried to shout over the crowd. The crowd responded by yelling back, “Love trumps hate!”
Police were on scene but both sides remained separated by the street.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown