Ahead of the month of Ramadan, Toronto’s Muslim community is finally getting its own version of the Christmas Market; a Muslim lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur is hosting a Ramadan market in Mississauga this weekend.
Salam Shop founder Sudduf Wyne hopes to make the Ramadan market in Mississauga this weekend a yearly event. It’s happening ahead of the Islamic month of fasting, which begins on May 17
When Sudduf Wyne was planning to bring what was once a yearly Welcome-to-Ramadan event at her small boutique to a larger audience, she thought she would get a handful of vendors applying to be part of the market. Instead, more than 50 people applied.
Now, with the event booked full with more than 2,000 tickets sold, Wyne is gearing up for the biggest Ramadan event she’s ever organized.
“Truth be told, my vision was always to have an event that was similar to the Toronto Christmas Market,” she said. “Where we could have something to look forward to and share with not only the Muslim community but … all of our neighbours, the Canadian community coming to celebrate Ramadan with us.”
The event will occur a few days before Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, which starts on May 15. When the doors open at 10 a.m. at Spacebar Coworking, in the area of Millcreek Dr. and Mississauga Rd. on Saturday morning, crowds will be shopping through products from top Islamic brands, attending craft workshops, and participating in a charity toy drive, among other things. There is a spiritual room for prayer, and food vendors and free hotdogs provided by Zabiha Halal, a branch of Maple Lodge Farms, who are a corporate sponsor for the event.
“Obviously in the month of Ramadan, we’re focusing more on our prayers, so I wanted this to be something beforehand that we could enjoy to kick off the month,” Wyne said.
She closed her successful lifestyle boutique Salam Shop when she had her triplets, who are now a little over one year old. Bringing the joy of Ramadan to the younger generation is a huge focus for her. A section on her website about the kids’ activities reads: “Growing up in North America means we are surrounded by beautiful lights and excitement every December … but what about Ramadan?!”
“I’m excited for families to experience the event with their children,” Wyne said. “What I’m looking forward to is the smiles on their faces. A lot of us are second-generation Muslims and our kids are growing up in a very different environment and … we’re bringing them up a little differently, so we wanted to make Ramadan really exciting for them.”
the toy drive is also being run to donate to Nisa Homes, a transitional women’s shelter in Mississauga, where women are often staying with their children. Giving back to the community is the core of why Wyne wanted to create the Ramadan market event.
“I want people to know that Ramadan, it’s not about all of the extra things,” she said. “I know we like to focus on decor and the presents and all that, but it’s really about family and community coming together … really focusing on that spiritual aspect and charity. And there’s so many ways to teach those things to our kids, living here in Canada. We are one unified community.”
Even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Since she “started wearing the head scarf three or four years ago,” Wyne, who grew up in Burlington, noticed she was experiencing more “racist encounters.” She says she can “laugh it off,” but she fears for “our kids and for people who might be new to the country who see those racial comments.”
“I just want the (non-Muslim) community to know that we’re people, and we just want to be able to express ourselves and our beautiful religion just like they have the opportunity to.”
The market will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and members of the Muslim community and non-Muslim community alike are encouraged to come. Wyne hopes that it could be the start of a greater tradition, where kids can grow up being excited for the Ramadan market every year, “so that they feel a very true identity as a Canadian Muslim.”
“I’m already thinking about next year and how we’re going to make this bigger.”
With files from Bryann Aguilar