Local group organizes townhall with WRPS Chief to discuss action against hate crimes
Sunday marks the 6th anniversary of a deadly attack at a Quebec City mosque where six men were killed and five others were critically injured.
In Waterloo region, the anniversary is serving as a moment of reflection and a call for action against Islamophobia.
The Coalition of Muslim Women of KW (CMW) organized a townhall Sunday afternoon where Waterloo Regional Police Chief Mark Crowell was a key guest as the conversation focused on efforts to combat Islamophobia in the community.
“A definitely very sombre day for us, and you know, emotions are absolutely very, very sad and concerned,” said Sarah Shafiq, interim executive director at CMW.
For Waterloo region’s Muslim community, six years hasn’t erased the pain.
“Being together we will heal, and then healing will be channelled into action as well,” said Shafiq.
A gunman had entered the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and killed six people wounding many others. A 27-year-old man pleaded guilty in the killings with the judge saying the shooter had a visceral hatred for immigrants who are Muslims.
“Islamophobia doesn’t just kill those many people it impacts entire communities,” said Mifrah Abid, program coordinator of ‘Together Against Islamophobia’.
CMW hosted a townhall at the Victoria Hills Community Centre in Kitchener with WRPS Police Chief Mark Crowell to tackle Islamophobia seen locally. Abid says they’re working to help people voice their concerns to police through a tip line.
“We can talk all we want, but we need to come down as a community and say no,” she said. “That’s part of CMW’s mandates. Our hate reporting system is designed to counter hate.”
“It could be a dispute between neighbours, it could be graffiti, it could be anything along those lines,” said Crowell. “Working with the coalition, working with all of our community partners, we want to get the true picture of what’s happening everywhere.”
The community continues to show solidarity on a tragic anniversary. Region of Waterloo Paramedics is glowing green in support, and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic issuing a statement reading in part: “The City of Kitchener joins fellow Canadians in reflecting on this National Day of Remembrance of the Québec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia…regrettably, this anti-Muslim act is one of many examples we have witnessed across our nation and in Waterloo region.”
“We can’t let this tragedy, you know, sort of be forgotten,” said Shafiq. “This is not just a Muslim concern, it’s a community concern.”
Adding: "Their generation can work collaboratively, can counter hate together, so it's very important that they be here because this is as much if not more about them than it is about this generation," said Abid.
POLICE CHIEF ON TYRE NICHOLS BEATING
Crowell also spoke about the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis at the Sunday event.
"It was not only a failure in policing, but also a failure in humanity," he said. "We can't distance ourselfs from the uniform because we know people connect the dots.
"We do believe that faith and trust and confidence in policing is shaken."
Demonstrations continue in the US following the release of a video that shows officers beating the 29-year-old during a traffic stop. Nichols died three days later in hospital.
Five former police officers were fired in connection with the case and have each been charged with second degree murder as well as other offences.
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