From the outside, the mosque is an unremarkable, warehouse-like building in an industrial pocket of central Mississauga. Away from city lights, a few streets down from the highway, its doors are always open, the Islamic school brimming with women and children during the day, the echoes of Arabic prayer quietly streaming in its halls.
Jeffrey Brown, an Orthodox Jew from Thornhill, spent the last day of Hanukkah there meeting with three police officers, five Muslim men, and a Muslim woman. In December, the unlikely congregation had gathered in the teal-coloured carpeted prayer hall to talk about restoring a sense of security in their places of worship.
For more than 10 years, Brown has served as a community security volunteer at his synagogue. He has developed relationships with police, created a pool of volunteer patrols, and established a security infrastructure.
He’s clear-eyed about the need for security. “People in a house of worship have to be comfortable where they are,” Brown said. “They should be able to concentrate on prayers and know if something happens, plans are in place.”
But until last year’s mass shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, Brown had not had any close interactions with the Muslim community.
Where a shocked nation saw the faces of the six Muslim men who were killed there, Brown saw an open and unguarded door.
“There was nothing there,” said Brown. “No one there.”