University of Alberta student Jeremiah Ellis pitched his anti-Islamophobia campaign to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson on the street in April 2016.

Two days later, Iveson made a post on social media holding a World Mosaic Project sign and stating “Islamophobia has no place in Edmonton.”

“That post that he made, it was shared quite a bit and it gave the campaign quite a bit of momentum that carried onto the next year,” Ellis said.

And the campaign took off from there. 

Mayors from across the country including Naheed Nenshi from Calgary and Jim Watson from Ottawa took photos with the sign, showing their support for the project.

It quickly crossed national borders to the United States, with many mayors in the state of California signing on, as well as the mayors of Pittsburgh and Boston. 

It has since expanded globally to mayors in Australia and New Zealand and members of Parliament in Canada.

“Different leaders throughout the world and throughout the country have been supporting the testaments and the fact this idea that diversity is our strength isn’t just a Canadian value,” Ellis said.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is the message Ellis is spreading through the campaign.

The 20-year-old Canmore resident launched the World Mosaic Project in December 2015 responding to growing Islamophobia and xenophobia he saw in society and spread on social media. 

“It’s quite upsetting to see your social media feeds being filled with reports of bigotry,” he said. “This is not what we as a nation stand for. We are a nation that is usually proud of our multiculturalism and our value of diversity.”

The social media campaign, which started on the U of A campus, now has over 1,000 likes on its Facebook page. Ellis still has a few more goals he’d like to achieve, including adding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the campaign. 

He said Trudeau was an inspiration for the campaign as he advocated for diversity and showed his commitment through welcoming Syrian refugees into Canada.

“During the launch of the campaign, he did go against the grain of other politicians at the time,” he said. “It was an affirmation of this is what Canada is all about and this is what we should stand for despite the rhetoric we’ve been seeing.”

Ellis said most of the reaction to the campaign has been positive, but it has not been without its critics.

“I like when there is opposition, when people criticize the message that we’re trying to spread, because that sparks debate and that sparks conversation and that’s what we want to try and get going,” he said. 

Anyone is welcome to join the campaign by going to the Facebook page and sending a message requesting the sign.