On Jan. 29, during evening prayer at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, a shooter killed six and injured nineteen others. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau labelled this tragedy an “act of terrorism.” The Montreal and McGill communities responded by denouncing the shooting and participating in events focusing on solidarity.
Vigils were held across Canada to remember the lives of the six victims: Azzedine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, and Mamadou Tanou Barry, according to CBC News. On Jan. 30, the “Vigil de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec” was held in Montreal at the Parc metro station in response to the mosque shooting.
Vigile de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec
The vigil, which translates to “vigil of solidarity with the Muslims of Quebec,” aimed to stand up to hatred and support those who feel affected by anti-Muslim actions over the past week, according to Anglo-spokesperson of the Vigil Sameer Zuberi. The event was organized by local activists Eddy Pérez, Emilie Nicolas, Dalila Awada, Benjamin Prud’homme, Rim Mohsen, and Cathy Wong.
According to Zuberi, the event was organized the night of the shooting and arranged to take place the next day to provide an immediate response and to support those who lost their loved ones.
“We hope that people get an increased sense of awareness,” Zuberi said. “People often talk about Muslims in terms of terrorism. We hope to change that.”
Starting at 6 p.m., mourners gathered on Rue Jean-Talon to pay their respects to the victims of the shooting. Eight speakers voiced their reflections, with many sharing the sentiment that people of every nationality, sexuality, and race are part of Canada and Quebec.
Maia Salameh, U0 Arts, explained that she decided to attend this event to show solidarity and mourn with Muslims not only in Canada but around the word.
“The most memorable moment for me was when we joined in saying the al-Fatihah prayer,” Salameh said. “It was striking for me because it is the beacon of my faith and the faith of my fellow brothers and sisters of Islam. To say it proudly, despite the tragedy that took place, meant to me that we are not afraid of white supremacy and racism and xenophobia and we will stand firm in our faith.”
McGill University’s response
On the morning of Jan. 30, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier sent an email to the McGill Community officially condemning the actions of the shooter and the Arts Building flag would be lowered to half-mast. She encouraged students and faculty who require support to reach out to various campus resources, including McGill Counselling and Mental Health Services (MCMHS) for students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff.
In an email to The McGill Tribune, Sara Parks, the director of the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL), said that although the aftermath of the shooting has been difficult for members of the McGill community, the support has a silver-lining.
“I have been heartened by how many groups and students on campus have contacted us today, wanting to show their solidarity,” Parks wrote. “Students from the United Theological Seminary and the Student Christian Movement approached me to offer peer support to ‘Muslim sisters and brothers.’ The Newman Catholic Centre and other individual McGill chaplains have either issued statements condemning the violence or have reached out in other ways to coordinate strong displays of solidarity with Muslim communities and with any communities [shaken] by recent anti-religious acts.”
Parks encourages students to speak with chaplains at MORSL, as she said that they are available to offer support regardless of one’s faith.