NOTE: The following post has been updated to reflect new evidence.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
I have quoted this on many occasions and never before in my life has it rung truer.
A gunman stormed a mosque in Quebec city during evening prayers and six people are dead. I feel paralyzed with anger, fear, sadness and bouts of rage. I am struggling to articulate the emotions running through me.
This is my home. This is my place of birth. I have to look my children in the eyes tomorrow morning when I tell them this happened. I have to tell them that people went to a mosque just a few hours away from where we live and were shot while worshipping peacefully. I have to comfort them as they ask questions any child would ask, are they safe? What’s going to happen? Why would someone do this? These are the questions that I, along with thousands of other Muslim parents will need to answer.
The us versus them needs to stop. NOW. We need to stop it.
We cannot simply look at what is happening just south of our border and think it’s not our circus, those are not our monkeys. This past weekend love TRUMPED hate. When President Trump issued an executive order to prevent Muslim immigrants and refugees travelling in from 7 Muslim majority countries to return to their HOMES in the US, the good people of the United States of America came together to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Lawyers sat on airport floors and offered their services pro bono, people delivered pizza, water bottles and other supplies to those protesting. I was reminded of the words of my childhood icon Mr. Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
That is what I teach my children. That is what I remind myself. Good will prevail.
Right now I have tears of anger streaming down my face. Enough. I will not be vilified, have my friends, family, children and loved ones vilified for crimes we did not commit. This is not about American politics right now and I will try to not digress. This is about violent lunatics that took AK-47’s into the mosque and started shooting. While motives are not yet known, this horrendous act of terrorism comes at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment south of the border is fuelling the flames of hatred right here in our own backyard.
This is the not the first time this mosque was targeted. A pig’s head was left outside the mosque in June and a video of a man threatening to kill Quebec Muslims was posted online in 2015.
I have so many emotions ripping through my body right now begging to pour out onto this screen. I NEED to speak up. We cannot sit back and wait for someone to do something, to speak up, to make a difference. WE have to be the difference the world needs. Each and every single one of us.
I am thankful every single day to be Canadian and I am especially thankful for our current Prime Minister who tweeted:
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
My friend Amanda posted this on her Facebook:
🇨🇦Canadians, feeling helpless about what’s going on in the US? Here are some ways you can help #resist from the Great North — and ensure our own country stays free, too:
ENGAGE YOUR MP
Let your Member of Parliament know you want Canada to take a stand against the policies being instated in the US. Ask what is being done to welcome refugees here, and insist the law disallowing US asylum seekers be repealed.
Canadians spend billions of dollars each year travelling to the US. Plan your next vacation within Canada (it’s big and beautiful and there’s no way you’ve seen all of it!) or consider visiting another country that has taken a public stand against the current US administration’s rhetoric. Sadly, while doing so will hurt those working in US tourism, choosing not to invest money in a country’s economy is often one of the only ways foreigners can effectively show dissatisfaction.
VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET
Canada loves cross-border deals. Approximately 20 million overnight shopping trips to the US are taken by Canadians yearly. But voting with our wallets sends one of the most powerful messages we can to a government: until it is legal for citizens of all countries to enter the US, Canadians will not be entering it – even for a bargain.
PUSH FOR ELECTORAL REFORM
If we want to avoid the same fate in Canada of an ultra-conservative, racist and anti-LGBTQ government, the best thing we can do is push for electoral reform. Make our Liberal government keep its promise to revamp our unbalanced voting system BEFORE the next election.
SUPPORT OUR MEDIA OUTLETS
The state of our media is dire. It’s eroding at a rapid rate and with it, our democracy. The media keeps government honest by being granted full access and having the resources to fact-check official statements. It must never be restricted, nor attacked by leaders and policy makers. Let the government know a strong, unbiased media base is crucial to our democracy, and ask what plans they have to ensure its survival.
JOIN A PROTEST
Let our American friends know they’re not alone. Organize and demonstrate — peacefully. Complacency is what allows regimes to gain power and remain powerful. But the power is always with the people if those people are loud enough and supported by others around the world. We’ve got you, America. ❤
Remain informed, remain a voice — while taking breaks for self-care, of course. Be careful where you get your news from and fact-check regularly. But for the love of humanity, use. your. voice.
We CAN make a difference. #NoBanNoWall
I am going to do each and every single one of these things right now and I urge you to do the same. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my body and cut into pieces when I think of the families of the five innocent Quebecers who were killed while peacefully worshipping inside of a mosque. I will speak up for each of their sakes. I will speak up for my children’s sake and I will speak up because good will prevail and in order for it to do so, we all need to speak up. Use social media. Tweet, share articles, post on Facebook. We all need to do our part in spreading good. Combatting hatred, bigotry, Islamophobia and any other form of discrimination is our collective responsibility.