Calgarians gathered outside City Hall on Jan. 30 to stand in solidarity with Muslim-Canadians after the recent shooting that killed six people inside a Quebec City mosque.
People of all backgrounds and beliefs showed up carrying candles and holding signs that read, “Stop Islamophobia” and, “I stand with Muslims.”
“I think it’s absolutely imperative for everybody to be out here tonight,” said Wendy Sylvester.
“I have many Muslim friends and friends of all faiths, and we need to send a message to terrorists [saying] that we don’t agree with them, we don’t support them, and what they are doing is not okay.”
Sylvester said she felt she needed to go to the vigil because it was her duty as a Canadian citizen.
“In Canada, we have the right to freedom of expression [and] freedom of religion, and I am absolutely appalled that these acts of terrorism are still happening in 2017,” said Sylvester.
“I don’t want it to be more divisive than it already is, but I am seriously frightened and I refuse to cry anymore.”
The Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation hosted the event and encouraged people to bring peaceful, supportive signs that made political statements and messages.
“Tonight is a night for mourning the six people who have been murdered while practicing their faith,” said Aaban Mir.
“Tonight is not a night to voice our political or religious views. It’s a night to come together and show our support for our fellow Canadians and show support to the families who lost someone in the shooting. And that should be in everyone’s interest.”
Leaders of the Muslim community in Calgary spoke at the vigil along with David Swann, leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, and Iman Bukhari, the CEO of the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation.
“It’s so important for people to come together in a time like this to show support,” said Bukhari.
“Terrorism is wrong and we are absolutely against it. Lots of people came out tonight and that’s what we wanted; that’s what is important.”
Hanan Alwarraq, a Muslim-Canadian, attended the vigil in support of her fellow Canadians.
“It’s for humanity,” said Alwarraq.
“I’m out here tonight for humanity and in solidarity. Also for myself.”
Alwarraq said that part of the reason she attended the vigil was to remind herself that she is not hated as a Muslim.
I’m proud of where we are right now as Canadians. A vigil like this shows who we are as citizens. – Hanan Alwarraq
Even though Alwarraq was saddened by the act of terrorism that happened just a day before, she said she believes that Canada is still moving forward as a country.
“[Whenever] we see an act of violence from a Muslim, it’s automatically painted as a terrorist act,” said Alwarraq.
“This is one of the first times that I’m seeing a terrorist act being called a terrorist act regardless of faith or where they are from. I think we are already making huge progress, [however] there is always room for improvement.”
“I’m proud of where we are right now as Canadians. A vigil like this shows who we are as citizens.”