On Jan. 30, approximately 100 Dalhousie students gathered on the Studley campus quad to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community in Quebec, after six were murdered and many more shot and critically injured in a mosque in Sainte-Foy, Quebec on Jan. 29.
The vigil was hosted by the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association, and had three members deliver remarks.
Amina Abawajy, Vice President Academic and External of the Dalhousie Student Union, delivered a stirring poem that she had written when a terrorist attack plot had occurred in Halifax on Valentine’s Day 2015.
When law enforcement arrested the individuals, then-Justice Minister Peter Mackay referred to the individuals as “murderous misfits,” instead of referring to the act as terrorism, which is often used to characterize crimes by minorities.
Maryam Saqib and Jasveen Brar are two Dalhousie students, who despite the long history of conflict between their religions, being Muslim and Sikh respectively, are friends and stood in solidarity together.
“It was heartbreaking to hear,” Saqib said. “With all the stuff going on in the States right now, it tore me just hearing about how Islamophobia is present here.”
Brar then said: “Particularly in the last week or so, it’s just been one thing after the other.” Adding that as a first generation Canadian, “This is my home. That others feel like they’re not accepted, or that they’re being targeted for their beliefs, that is not Canada. It’s not my Canada.”
Many Dalhousie students reactions to the event ranged from shock that the shooting happened at home to believing it was only a matter time, but all are grieving.
Nnamdi Umahi, a Dalhousie student, stated that he was surprised it had happened.
“I’m just trying to connect the dots,” he said. “The Muslim ban by Trump, Canada welcoming Muslims who are stuck in the US, and then somebody shoots Muslims? What is the intent? The world is messed up.”
Sana Rehan, another Dalhousie student, said she felt a “horrified shock” but saw it coming.
“It was bound to happen when you fuel such rhetoric, there is obviously going to be repercussions whether it’s in America or Canada,” she said. “This also shows us that Canada is not the utopia that we always think it is.”
The sentiment of many students was that they felt happy over the weekend to be in Canada rather than the United States because of the divisive politics of President Trump, and were trying to come to terms with their feelings over this tragedy.
Payton Chaply, is a Dalhousie student who was happy to be Canadian after watching the drama unfold in the States, and woke up to hear the news and felt “so angry, but also just heartbroken.”
“It’s important to be here to show solidarity. If something were to happen to people in my community, I would like people to be there. We’re all Canadian, we’re showing that we’re accepting, and that we love each other.”