Vigil Held at KPU to Honour the Victims of the Quebec City Mosque Attack

Vigil - Joseph Keller

KPU students and staff gathered in the Surrey Campus conference centre to honor the victims of the Quebec mosque shooting. (Joseph Keller)

Three days after the tragedy that occurred in Quebec on Jan. 29 the KPU community came together to memorialize the victims while rejecting the hateful rhetoric that lead to the act of violence. Students, staff, and other community members packed into the conference centre on KPU’s Surrey campus for the solemn, hour-long vigil.

Several students and faculty members had a chance to speak before a moment of silence was observed, candles were lit, and flowers were laid at the podium in honor of the victims.

The vigil was planned by the University along with the Kwantlen Student Association in response to the events that took place in the Quebec City suburb of Sainte-Foy. Just before 8pm that Sunday night a lone gunman walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City as evening prayers were taking place and opened fire, killing six men and injuring seventeen others. The shooter was known to have held white nationalist sympathies and extremist right-wing views and is now in police custody awaiting trial.

“I think the students needed such an event to make them feel safe and included, especially students from the Muslim community,” says KSA VP Finance and Operations Rawan Ramini, who spoke at the vigil on behalf of the KSA. “They needed something like that to show them that the university cares about them and that the KSA cares about and supports them.”

The vigil was lead by KPU president and vice-chancellor Alan Davis, who opened the proceedings with a few words and introduced each of the speakers.

Speakers included psychology professor Dr. Farhad Dastur and members of the KPU Muslim Students Association.  Kwantlen First Nation Elder Kevin Kelly and his son Michael Kelly Gabriel also said some words before performing two First Nations songs. Kelly spoke of the importance of Muslim Canadians being able to celebrate their cultural and religious traditions openly and freely just as Kelly himself is able to do as a member of the Canadian First Nations communities.

As a Canadian Muslim and a representative of KPU students, Ramini took the opportunity to speak about her story of coming to Canada. She spoke of going to to the immigration office and being told “welcome home” as she was handed her Canadian passport.

“I decided to share that today with everyone because this is the Canada that I know and this is the Canada that my family and I chose to come to,” says Ramini. “The people are what makes a country and we came here not for the country itself but for people who celebrate and embrace differences.”

CORRECTION: We initially reported that it was KPU professor Rajiv Jhangian and KPU elder in residence Lekeyten speaking at the vigil. It was actually KPU professor Dr. Farhad Dastur and Kwantlen First Nation Elder Kevin Kelly speaking at the vigil.  We apologize for the error.

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