Hawzah News Agency (Edmonton, Canada) - Al Rashid Mosque, Canada's oldest mosque, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon that it will open its doors to the public between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., as temperatures are expected to reach a chilling low of -43 C overnight.
"This is one of the coldest nights we've seen in Edmonton for 10 years," said Noor Al-Henedy, the mosque's communications director. She added the mosque will shelter people as long as temperatures remain frigid, and will offer hot meals and necessities for those seeking refuge under its roof.
"We will not stop until it's safe enough, it gets a little warmer, and things are easier for people to deal with," Al-Henedy said.
The mosque's decision to open its doors comes after temperatures began to dip late last week, and the death of a man in central Edmonton on Sunday that police said was related to the bitter cold.
The man, whose body was discovered by Edmonton police around 10 a.m. Sunday, is the first cold-related fatality of the year. He was found near Commonwealth Stadium, and the temperature was hovering around -37 C with the wind chill.
The extreme cold is expected to stay for the rest of the week, with Thursday's temperatures expected to hit -44 C with the wind chill. Temperatures are expected to be a little warmer on Sunday, with a high of -13 C.
In the meantime, Al-Henedy said the mosque will be appointing volunteers who will stay overnight with any visitors, and is urging Edmontonians to direct those who need help to the mosque, or to call 211, a crisis line set up to help the city's homeless. Al Rashid's efforts to open its doors are done in collaboration with the Alberta Muslim Affairs Public Council.
This is not the first time the mosque has opened its doors to help. It opened up during the Fort McMurray fires in the summer of 2016 for families fleeing the blaze.
"Helping out during rough times, that’s definitely something we have done before," Al-Henedy said.