On Sunday, January 29, we heard of the terrorist attack on the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre Mosque in Sainte Foy, Quebec. At first we were shocked, and eventually disgusted at the rhetoric on social media about the vile act. People were more interested in the race and religion of the suspect than the victims and the Islamic community that was affected. For many hours, including the next day, the internet blamed the shooting on Muslims. "Allah-u-Akbar" was trending and disgustingly racist and Islamophobic social media and media reports were being made. The suspected shooter is actually a bigoted 27-year-old white man known to many as a conservative online troll and white nationalist. It became very evident how real Islamophobia is in this nation on January 29.
However - Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation as an organization work to improve race relations (which is also closely tied to religion). We understood this was a moment to get the community together, to stand against hate, and also to show the Muslim community that they are welcome and loved in Canada. Our head office is in Calgary, so we took on the role to organize a vigil in downtown Calgary on Monday night outside of City Hall.
What was the result?
Almost 1,000 people gathered outside of City Hall, lighting candles and holding signs denouncing the acts of violence, Islamophobia, and expressing support for the Muslim community in Canada. Young children, people of different faiths, race, cultures etc. came together to show that love and tolerance is what we as Canadians stand for. It was a cold night, but many came out to show their support. The members of the Muslim community that attended all expressed their gratitude for all that attended. It meant a lot to them. And so in that little while, we were able to bring people together. Though it is sad what happened, we hope it can encourage others to take a stand against hate.