Dr. Sarah Shafiq, The Circle

February 29th, 2018 marked one year since six people were gunned down and 19 got injured while praying in a Quebec City Mosque. Waterloo Region commemorated this historic Canadian tragedy on Sunday, February 28th in Kitchener City Hall. The community organizations who partnered for this memorial included The Coalition of Muslim Women, Islamic Humanitarian Service, Waterloo Masjid, Kitchener Waterloo Islamic Association, Muslim Association of Canada, and Interfaith Grand River. Almost 180 community members representing our Region’s diverse ethnicities, religions, races and cultures took time to come together and show their support.

We started the commemoration with Land Acknowledgement and were honored to have prayers from Christian, Sikh and Muslim traditions followed by a moment of silence. These communal and personal prayers brought comfort and solace to the broken hearted. People of all faiths joined our hands together and asked for God’s love and mercy to be with the victims, their families and their communities.
Deeply touching testimonies were heard from our honorable guests who shared their hurt, hope, outrage and love. They affirmed that the memorial ceremony was important to enact and remember that Islamophobia exists here in Waterloo Region as well, and that work must be done proactively to confront this scourge of hate at an early stage. At the same time, we are blessed to be living in a multi-cultural environment where we live our lives in harmony and peace. We heard about how most of us in the hall, except for the native peoples, were immigrants from diverse backgrounds and that commonality itself should cause us to be compassionate towards those who are different. The messages reflected how the shooting was a moment of shame for Canada as we joined the list of countries where people offering prayers were targeted in their places of worship. Speakers reflected on the lessons learned and emphasized the value of ally-ship and coming together during such times.
Coalition of Muslim Women’s “Salaams” team with their many volunteers was also present, distributing sweet treats that were made with love a day before. Notes of compassion, kindness and gratitude were attached for our beloved community members.
We held the ceremony to remind us that this scourge of hate still exists and to celebrate the out-pouring of goodwill after the shooting. We remembered the names of the innocent victims – Mamadou Tanou Barry, Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, Aboubaker Thabti and Khaled Belkacem. We also raised funds for a Canadian hero, Ayman Darbali who came in front of the attacker and directed the bullets to himself and away from others to save lives of fellow worshipers. We are so happy and proud to share a recent news that Canadians collected the amount needed for an accessible home for Ayman Derbali, who will now be able to live with his family.