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Vancouver International Airport – YVR Prayer Room


Sr Farida Bano Ali, Vice Chair Social Services, Board of Women’s Council has been volunteering her time and resources for the YVR Airport Diversity Preparedness since 2013. Recently the Airport chaplain contacted Sr Farida for assistance with a refugee Iraqi family and was able to help with contacts and settlement. Following is the message from the Airport chaplain.

“A Kurdish-Iraqi mother with 2 sons arrived late one Friday afternoon, with only the 13 year old boy able to speak any English. They had escaped persecution in Iraq and also in refugee camps for several years before finally reaching Canada. Now safe, their challenge was where and how to live until their month-away court interview (to decide if they could remain in Canada. No family shelters in the Lower Mainland were available. However, I remembered an airport friend with the Muslim Association of Richmond and she contacted a Kurdish-speaking employee at YVR who called them immediately, and whose friend was able to come right away, pick them up and take them home - a very tired family after 24 hours of travel and 36 hours of waiting! Thank God for good people of faith who are willing to help strangers in time of need!”

In 2013, I was invited to join the Diversity Emergency Preparedness by the YVR Chaplain, Dennis.

We noticed that the prayer room at the time was a small room, in which 2/3rd of the room was occupied by the Church service, and the remainder was for the Salah. The international airport has a mandate to have a compulsory prayer/meditation for all monotheistic religions. At the time, this room was not able to meet the needs of the international community when travelling through YVR. There was also no visible signage for the prayer room as well.

We started to discuss this issue with the committee, and it was sent to upper management. At the time there were major renovations in progress. My recommendation was to have an adequate prayer space and an ablution area for Muslims.

Recently, I received excellent news from Dennis who is the current chaplain. He informed me that the new prayer space is in a secure area, close to gate 54-55 near Turkish Airlines boarding. This new space is much larger, quieter, and located in a private area. There is more than adequate space for prayer/relaxation. Alhamdulliah, the only missing piece is proper signage for the new prayer space which now have been completed.

The next step is to have a proper prayer space downstairs where the current one is located (near Tim Horton’s).