There were 5,000 people in attendance at the funeral of 3 of the victims of the Quebec city shooting which was held at Maurice Richard arena on February 2nd. As condolences came in from every part of the country, an important issue was touched upon. How we speak about minorities in this country needs to change. We cannot afford as a society to engage in the us versus them rhetoric. Our nation is full of immigrants and our strengths as a society lie in accepting that we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them. This is a statement Prime Minister Trudeau has used many times in the past.
As I stood in the front row of the spectator section with my head bowed down in respect, I prayed. I prayed for those who had innocently lost heir lives and were lying in their caskets for their final farewell. I prayed for all those who had come from as far as PEI and various parts of Ontario to attend. I prayed for those who, like myself, had borne the frigid temperatures and stood outside the doors for 45 minute waiting to get inside. I prayed for the politicians who came in droves and stood in solidarity for our community that was mourning its dead. I prayed that the words emanating from their lips would serve as a guidance for future policy, a promise that would hold true and a vow to all Canadians. I prayed that every single media outlet that had come to cover the funeral would feel humbled by the purpose of our gathering and would hold themselves to a higher degree of accountability when it comes to selecting the words used to describe Muslims and minorities in our communities. I prayed that the Muslim community who in the past has felt vilified, ostracized and marginalized because of this same rhetoric could find it within their hearts (and mine) to forgive and to, with time, forget many of the injustices we have endured. I prayed for solace to fill our hearts. I prayed for strength to do what is needed within my community as a Muslim, my community as a Quebecoise woman and in my community as a Canadian.
The words of Quebec premier Philip Couillard resonated in my heart as he urged Quebeckers, Canadians and the media specifically to be mindful of the rhetoric used when Couillard urged politicians and the public to “think twice” about the “words we write, the words we utter.
“As a community and country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before,” Trudeau said. I am watching closely to see what comes of these words. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for much of the work that our Prime Minister has done in his time in office, he and others need to be a held accountable for promises made at times like these.
We move forward after a difficult and emotional week with a sense of hope, with a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging. We join hands with our fellow Canadians and know that if changes needs to happen, it needs to come from each and every single one of us. That is what standing in solidarity is all about.
I conclude with a video of MP Joël Lightbound addressing Quebec City’s Muslim community he grew up with in parliament.
“Silence also has consequences. Never again.” —