A vigil was held on Monday night at King’s College Circle in solidarity with the victims of the terror attack that took place at a Quebec City mosque.On Sunday, a gunman opened fire at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, killing six people and injuring 19. 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonette was subsequently charged with six counts of first degree murder.The vigil was organized by the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Students’ Union and the French Course Union. Sahal Malek, who is the president of both unions, spoke to The Varsity.“In situations like these students, they’ll feel it in different ways, and have varying perspectives, reactions, and grievances,” said Malek. “It’s important that we don’t paint them all with one brush, and in this case of course, as students we want to show that many of us have solidarity with Quebec, the Muslims of Quebec, and the victims and their families.”Jayne Kitchen, another organizer, stressed the importance of social media as a platform for reaching out to the victims and their families: “I think that it has its limits, but it must be really comforting for people who are far away from us to see the sheer number of people using a hashtag, or to see a large crowd in pictures, and on a bunch of different media outlets.”In response to the attack, Muslim Student Association President, Dalia Hashim was also involved in the planning of the Vigil and told the Varsity: “We pride ourselves on being a very diverse campus, but with that diversity comes an onus on each and every one of us to educate ourselves, to be there for other people, and to be there for other communities when they need it.”Hashim encourages students to step outside their bubble and speak out against Islamophobia: “If you see something, say something. I know it sounds very cliché but it is very important.”Representatives from faith-based groups gave their support to the Muslim communities in Quebec and Canada.“We are gathered tonight as neighbors, as friends, to express our grief, and to show our neighbors, the most vulnerable of people in the city tonight, those who are grieving, our Muslim friends,” said Pastor Dawn Leger from All-Saints Kingsway Anglican Church. “We are here, we love you, we support you. We will work to make sure you have a safe place to worship. We will do that all tomorrow. Tonight we give them the honor they deserve.”Politicians also attended the vigil in order to express their solidarity during this dark hour.“We must assure the most vulnerable people in this time, that we in this country, and in this city, the most diverse city in the world, don’t accept and won’t accept the notion that we divide people, that we marginalize people on the basis of where they came from, who they are, the language that they speak, or their faith,” said Mayor John Tory.Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau also attended the vigil: “We as Canadians realize that we are so much stronger because of our diversity. That the power of our country, people of different faiths living, working, and praying together, whether Muslim Canadian, or Jewish Canadian, Christian Canadian, or people who have no faith, we stand together and recognize people who have different religious faiths,” Morneau said.Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost of Students at UofT, in an address made on behalf of President Meric Gertler, announced that, starting on Tuesday, the University will be flying its flags at half-mast to commemorate the lives lost during the attack.
Published: 3:35 pm, 31 January 2017
Modified: 11:38 pm, 31 January 2017