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Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque extends temporary shelter as extreme cold remains

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Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque extends temporary shelter as extreme cold remains
After a week of extremely cold temperatures, Edmontonians can finally expect some warmer conditions over the next few days. But this brief reprieve isn't expected to last, leading some local shelters to extend their services. Chris Chacon reports. – Jan 1, 2022

Volunteers at the temporary shelter at Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque have been busy ringing in the new year by helping others.

“We have about 10 individuals staying at the mosque here with us during the day, the team is putting together a nice brunch for them to help them kick off the new year with a little bit of positivity and hope,” said Noor Al-Henedy, director of communications.

The mosque is one of several shelters that opened when the city activated its extreme weather response last month.

The shelter was supposed to end its services Dec. 31, the same time the city was also expected to end its extreme weather response — but both have been extended.

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“Initially, everyone was expecting the temperatures to remain low until Dec. 31, but if anybody is checking the weather forecast the temperatures are not rising. They are remaining very low,” Al-Henedy said.

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“Certainly the duration feels long and perhaps it is, in the sense that it happened over the Christmas season and generally people like to be outdoors doing activities with family and friends,” Environment Canada Meteorologist Heather Pimiskern said.

And while this stretch of extreme cold weather is not unusual for Edmonton, Pimiskern said we are in for a brief weekend warm up.

“But unfortunately it will be short lived as another artic air blast is expected to surge southward into Alberta and remain entrenched over the region over the next week,” Pimiskern said.

Because of the cold, weather the mosque said it will ensure to keep its shelter open.

“We have a lot of guests here with their feet full of frostbite, they can’t move their hands, they can’t even feel their hands, they’re in crucial pain and they have nowhere to go,” Al-Henedy said.

Pimiskern said our region could be in for more of this extreme cold weather over the next few months.

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For now, the mosque’s shelter is planning to stay open until at least Jan. 9.

“We felt it was very important to keep this space open, we do not want anyone to be sleeping outside when it’s minus 30 or minus 40,” Al-Henedy said.

Al-Henedy said the shelter is in need of disposable blankets, pillows, cleaning supplies, bus tickets, snacks, and volunteers.

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