Hot-button issues: RRC staffer rallies support for local Muslim community

A Red River College employee is encouraging Winnipeggers to show support for the city’s Muslim community, by literally opening their arms during a time of political turmoil.

Events and Facility Rental Coordinator Krista Michie recently hired RRC grad Kristen Masters (of Lemon Buttons) to design and produce hundreds of buttons bearing the slogan “Free Hugs for Muslims.”

She says the campaign was inspired by the current political climate, which has been further polarized in recent weeks by the attempted U.S. travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, continued debate over the plight of Syrian refugees, and a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six worshippers dead.

“I was feeling sad about what’s going on in North America,” says Michie (shown). “It was my way of trying to show love, solidarity and inclusiveness.”

So far, Michie has given out more than 200 buttons, including those shared with fellow marchers at last weekend’s walk for human rights (among them, RRC President Paul Vogt).

She’s also had requests from former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Obby Khan, who asked for a batch to be dropped off at his downtown eatery, and from friends and acquaintances in Brandon and Saskatchewan.

Michie currently has about 100 buttons left to distribute — either in person, or by mail — but is open to producing a second batch, if there’s demand.

So far, she hasn’t had any requests for hugs — though as the buttons point out, that’s a standing offer.

“Not too sure people will actually take me up on that,” she says. “It’s more about sending the message that Muslims are accepted here.”

To request a button, send Michie an email at kmichie@rrc.ca.