McGill’s Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies) Angela Campbell, the Institute of Islamic Studies, and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) held a commemoration event for the victims of the 2017 Quebec City Mosque shooting on Jan. 29, exactly three years after the incident.
The ceremony began with an introduction by Ehab Lotayef, a Canadian Muslim and an IT Manager at McGill University. Lotayef expressed his desires to see more engagement from non-Muslim Canadians with the Muslim community moving forward.
“[This event is] part of Muslim Awareness Week, an initiative by the Muslim community to go beyond just compassion and sympathy after what happened in 2017,” Lotayef said. “[We want to] build bridges and connections and get the whole society to know more about Muslims, as, I hate to say it, but as normal people.”
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi was in attendance on behalf of McGill’s administration and led the audience of approximately 50 people in observing a minute of silence for the six victims.
Regarding McGill’s commitment to addressing issues like Islamophobia, Manfredi cited the University’s continued support of Muslim students and faculty.
“As we remember them, we also renew McGill’s profound and shared commitment to an inclusive campus, wherein diversity is not merely tolerated, but welcomed and celebrated,” Manfredi said.
Manfredi expressed his gratitude towards those in attendance for gathering in a time of mourning to support one another.
“I deeply appreciate our coming together today to mark this important moment, as a gesture of remembrance and of our community’s steadfast commitment to openness, belonging, and inclusion,” Manfredi said.
Manfredi’s remarks were followed by those of Caroline Savic, representing the office of Jennifer Maccarone, member of the Quebec National Assembly for Westmount-Saint-Louis. She stressed the significance of commemorating the shooting.
“It is our duty to remember, so that it never happens again,” Savic said. “It is an important reminder of the dangers that await us when ignorance, fear, and hatred take hold of people.”
MSA President Hamza Lahmimsi shared his perspective on the subject and underlined the impact that the shooting had on the community.
“Ibrahima, Mamadou, Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, and Azzedine were brutally murdered that day, [and] 19 others were left injured,” Lahmimsi said. “It is important to remember that no such tragedy occurs in a vacuum. Women were left widowed, children fatherless. A whole community was wounded by the loss of their beloved friends.”
In his speech, Lahmimsi emphasized that attacks of this kind are inherently tied to Islamophobia and that they should always be regarded as such.
“The shooter’s […] intentions were terror,” Lahmimsi said. “He would have wanted for us Muslims to live in fear, to be scared of the community we have loved for so long. His message was clear [that Muslims] are not welcome here. It is becoming increasingly difficult to say whether he was right or wrong. It is truly a tragedy to question whether you are a guest in the country you were born in, and or have lived in, and contributed to for so long.”
Khalid Medani, professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies, concluded the commemoration by discussing public accountability. He reminded the audience that actively working to confront these issues is paramount.
“It is only when we come together, and are vigilant about understanding that this is really a national and global issue, that we can really make some inroads into dealing with these types of issues,” Medani said.
At the end of the event, the attendees visited the memorial tree planted in honor of the six victims near the entrance of the James Administration building, placing one rose at the memorial for each of the lives lost.