My heart is still overwhelmed with the immediate response by our Saint Mary’s University community members in coming together to hold a vigil in remembrance of the tragic events that happened in Quebec on January the 29th, 2017. Jane Raeburn Jans contacted me early the following day (on January 30th, 2017) to let me know that she was in the works of contacting SMUSA and the University administrators to put together a vigil and asked that I offer some words of condolences. Fittingly, the art gallery was available at 12:00pm that day to host us. The aura in the room was one of grief and tenderness. It was a moment of collective unity against hatred. A moment that brought people from all walks of life together to jointly comfort one another. I was granted the opportunity to express my sentiments at the vigil, and in remembrance of that day I would like to share my words with you. I said the following:
It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you today because of such tragic events that happened in Quebec last night. Six people have been pronounced dead, and 5 have been injured. Reports say that 39 people were shot at by 2 gunman at their place of worship and refuge. As someone who identifies as a Muslim, it breaks my heart to know that people were targeted based on their religious affiliation. These miniscule differences cost someone their life. Think about that. Ponder that. Personally, I have been sad for quite some time because events like these that target minorities have been on the rise. I have been sad because preach of hate and divisiveness is becoming ever more compelling. I have been sad because I am becoming increasingly sensitive and fragile to the injustices and hate crimes that are reoccurring over and over all around us. I have been sad because as someone who adheres to a beautiful faith that preaches peace and kindness, I have been told that I am not welcome in certain locales. I have been sad because it is quite tiresome to see divisiveness all around us. That being said, I will not give up! I will not give in to divisiveness. I will continue to have hope because I feel as though justice always prevails. I will continue to not let fear deter me from practicing my faith. I will continue to make sure that I embody love and tenderness. I will make it a mission to do what I can to reinforce togetherness and unity in whatever capacity I am granted. I will take responsibility to make sure that our communities are places of harmony and warmth. In spirit of this heart wrenching time, I would like to quote Mother Theresa. She says, “we can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love”. So let’s showcase more love for one another. Peace and blessings.