On March 17, I hosted a vigil commemorating the lives of those lost during the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The event was graciously hosted by Rev. Ian LaFleur and St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church on Bayview Avenue.
Residents from many different communities in Don Valley West took the opportunity to come together in a show of solidarity with our Muslim friends and neighbours to stand against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred.
They were joined by members of the Islamic Society of Toronto and the 65 Musalla, including Mufti Ismail Kotwal and Maulana Mohammad Bodhania from the Islamic Society of Toronto and Imam Inayat Ali Shakir.
Members of the community sang hymns against division and hatred, and heard speeches and prayers from Rev. LaFleur, Mufti Kotwal, Jess Watts from St. Cuthbert’s, and me.
Residents lit candles and observed a moment of silence while the church bells were rung 50 times for those whose lives were lost in the terrorist attacks.
As societies face a rise in Islamophobia, prejudice and rhetoric against refugees and immigrants, we must all stand together against these forms of vile hatred. Those espousing these views cannot go unchallenged. Hate can only be defeated by love.
We must never let the hate of a few threaten the strength and unity of our diverse societies.