Vigils for six people killed in a Quebec mosque were held throughout the province on Monday night in cities such as Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.
In Moncton, a crescent moon slowly rose over the city. It lined up with a decorative cross atop a pine tree outside city hall, where about 300 people of multiple faiths and backgrounds had gathered to remember the victims of Sunday night’s shooting.
“It’s not the first time I’ve shared a special moment with this community” said Mohamed Ali Mhalla who helped organize the vigil.
“I am very happy and very touched from this presence,” he said.
“To show for all the Muslims in Canada that the Canadian people are welcoming ourselves and they respect what we do here.”
City council adjourns meeting for vigil
City Council put a hold on its regular meeting on Monday evening so councillors could join the vigil.
Fighting back tears, Mayor Dawn Arnold said the size of the crowd was an overwhelming show of solidarity and support.
“I don’t think anyone is unaffected by what’s happening in our world today” said Arnold, noting the support the city showed to Syrian refugees.
“It doesn’t surprise me to see so many people out here,” she said. “Because that is Moncton, this is what we do.”
In the wake of Sunday night’s attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, several mosques have now tightened security.
Arnold said she hoped similar measures would not be needed in Moncton.
Residents attend vigil, protest U.S. travel ban
Many who attended the vigil said they were affected not just by the shooting, but by the recent travel ban imposed by the United States on Muslim majority countries.
Roland Brideau said he was tired of the amount of cultural intolerance he’s witnessed over the past year.
Rather than trying to make sense of it through a social media post, Brideau said he decided to light a candle at the vigil.
“I’m not a religious person myself, but I do respect people who do have their religious beliefs” he said, adding that Sunday night’s shooting at the Grand Mosque was senseless.
Along with candles, many like Melanie Roy, also carried signs of support for Muslims.
Roy said her sign was a message to Muslims everywhere “that there’s a place for them here, in our hearts, in our town, in our country.”
Muslim community thankful for support
The immense show of support from the crowd wasn’t lost on members of Moncton’s Muslim community.
“It fills my heart with happiness” said Tamara Idris.
“It’s really great to see that people from my community, the Canadians, are here to support us, the Muslim community.”
Idris added that she had been having a hard time dealing with emotions brought up by recent actions from the Trump administration.
“But seeing everyone here tonight, it just makes me proud to be Canadian,” she said.