Night Market Toronto hosting Canada’s first-ever Halal food tour at GO stations – meet the people behind the idea

Headed to eight cities in southern Ontario, Night Market Toronto is hosting Canada’s first-ever Halal food tour. Metrolinx News spoke to the organizers to learn more about the inspiration behind the events as well as the impacts of working with GO Transit.

It’s not easy for people with dietary restrictions to find accessible options.

That’s what sparked the inspiration for Canada’s first-ever Halal food tour, an event centred around themes of inclusion and community.

Founder Rafaa Chapti, co-founder Zaina Moussa and chief brand officer Amanee Nassereddine spoke to Metrolinx News to share their inspiration behind the food tour and the impacts of choosing to hold several events at GO stations.

There’s no pork or alcohol at any of Night Market Toronto’s stops, making it a 100 per cent Halal event – supporting the team’s vision of a more inclusive set of food options in the GTA.

The event is also a celebration of cultures, featuring music and festivities.

The Halal food tour runs on the weekends, and lasts until 11pm or midnight.

Chapti, Moussa and Nassereddine are all Muslim women, born and raised in Mississauga. It’s that upbringing that started them down the path of diversifying the local food scene.

“Growing up, my family strictly ate Halal food. Whenever I went to food festivals, I’d always have to be more wary of where I’m eating, not just because they don’t serve Halal food, but also because of cross-contamination with items like pork and alcohol,” said Chapti, founder of Night Market Toronto.

“So, it’s long overdue to have a festival and a food tour representing of this community in the way it has played out so far.”

The organizers say the tour has already helped Muslim people in the GTA feel more comfortable and heard.

“We’ve added this sense of peace of mind to the Muslim community,” said Nassereddine, Night Market Toronto’s chief brand officer.

“We’ve eliminated that barrier for them to feel uncomfortable about asking questions or feel hesitant.”

Not only has this event benefited the Muslim community, but it’s also a great opportunity for vendors to make their options more accessible.

In fact, multiple vendors at Night Market Toronto have become Halal-friendly specifically for this event.

“This is a whole demographic that [the vendors] couldn’t cater toward because they weren’t Halal – and now they are,” said Moussa, co-founder of Night Market Toronto.

Four out of eight events on the Halal food tour are taking place at GO stations.

“Our events are a representation of the community – so it’s really important that whoever we’re working with aligns with our mission and values,” Moussa explained.

“The GO stations are community hubs, so it really aligns with our event.”

Chapti said the team couldn’t be happier with the support from Metrolinx.

“Metrolinx is in the business of connecting all the cities, and we’re on a tour – it only made sense. Being at the GO station makes the event more accessible, and we’re all for that,” said Chapti.

Along with food trucks, the stops are decorated with lights, tables, and signs.

However, the team did encounter some challenges while organizing the event.

“Breaking through the food industry was the toughest challenge, for sure,” Chapti said.

“We are a team of three women, and the food industry here is male dominated – it was quite tough trying to break through those ceilings.”

At the end of the day, Chapti, Moussa and Nassereddine are all about supporting and celebrating the many cultures that exist in the GTA.

“Our events are a representation of the people that our city is made up of – and we want to be able to connect with every community.”

Amanee Nassereddine, Rafaa Chapti and Zaina Moussa at a Night Market Toronto event. (Maaz Khan photo)

Check out the event details below to attend the Night Market Toronto events held at GO stations. For a complete list of dates, please visit the Night Market Toronto website.

Event details:

  • Oakville GO Station – June 3-5, 2022
    • Friday 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Saturday 2:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Sunday 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
  • Guildwood GO Station – June 10-12, 2022
    • Friday 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Saturday 2:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Sunday 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
  • Ajax GO Station – June 17-19, 2022
    • Friday 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Saturday 2:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
    • Sunday 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Story by Abby Zinman, Metrolinx editorial co-op student