Virtual vigil in Waterloo Region honours London, Ont. family killed in anti-Muslim attack
WATERLOO -- Muslim communities across southwestern Ontario are expressing shock and grief after an Islamophobic attack in London, Ont. that killed four people.
Many groups are creating safe spaces and holding vigils to help the community collectively grieve.
The four people, all from the same family, were killed Sunday night after a 20-year-old man struck them with his truck, police say. A nine-year-old boy remains in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
On Tuesday, a virtual vigil was held by the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener Waterloo and featured members of the Muslim community, political representatives, and others from across Waterloo Region who wished to attend.
"I'm angry and frustrated, we know that what happened is just the visible part of the iceberg," said Sarah Shafiq, programming director for the coalition. "There's so much hate and dscrimination that is unseen, that is seen to us but is not seen by the outside world."
The event organized by the Coalition of Muslim Women featured speakers sharing their sorrow, with some talking about the fear they now have to go for a walk.
"The impact of this horrific act is huge," said Ghazala Fauzia, board chair of the coalition. "We need to be here for each other while collectively grieving the loss."
Many also called on Canadians to acknowledge the Islamaphobia, racism, and hate that exists, but is often ignored by people who don't experience it.
"We live in a free Canada where a family was murdered while walking," said speaker Madiha Syed. "Canada is not innocent in this issue. They must stop pretending they area victim along with the rest of us."
As people gathered to denounce hate, there were also demonstrations of hate that forced the vigil to be briefly paused.
A so-called "Zoom bombing" with racist audio broadcast on the call, while organizers say hateful comments were also typed into the chat.
Many acknowledged these acts at the vigil added even more pain to those gathering to grieve.
Regional police were a part of the gathering and are now investigating.
The Muslim Society of Guelph is also organizing a physically distanced vigil on Thursday night.
"We plan to head out on a symbolic walk, just as this family was walking," said Sara Sayyed with the Muslim Society of Guelph. "Head down some of our main streets, where people can see us, people can join us and understand that it was a family simply going for a walk."
A special memorial garden is being created at the back of the mosque in Guelph in memory of the London family and other victims of Islamophobia.
Sayyed is asking communities to bring a plant to be added to the garden in lieu of flowers or candles.
Imam Fatir Ahmad at the Cambridge Mosque says many community members planned to attend the in-person vigil in London to express their condolences.
"We live by the motto of love for all, hatred for none," he said. "For every Muslim that is in this country, I think they have a responsibility to really showcase the peaceful message of Islam."
With reporting from CTV Kitchener's Krista Simpson