By Zena Salem
Hundreds of mourners and supporters gathered at Nathan Phillips Square on March 15 to mourn the death of 50 people killed in two New Zealand mosques.
A march was planned by the Ryerson Students’ Union, Muslim Womxn at Ryerson and the Muslim Students’ Association, to show solidarity against hate and Islamophobia in response to the attack in New Zealand was planned.
On March 15, a terrorist attack took place at two mosques: Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, resulting in the death of 50 people, including children as young as three.
Speakers included Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in Ajax, ON, and Rima Berns-McGown, MPP of Beaches-East York, and Kristyn Wong Tam, councillor for Ward 13 showed up to address the crowd.
Hussen said it’s been difficult to process what happened. “After we reflect on what happened, we have to ask ourselves: how did this come about?”
“We should never be ashamed to name the victims, to name the religion, name the place of worship that people are targeted in.”
Hussen added that although vigils and sending our thoughts and prayers are good, it’s important to take action and address hatred and racism within our community, family and friends.
Rima Berns-McGown, who identifies as Jewish-Muslim said to the crowd that she plans to introduce a bill that will make March 15 a day to bring awareness to Islamaphobia.
Burhan Goraya, Ryerson alumna and outreach coordinator for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, helped activate dozens of Ryerson student volunteers to attend the vigil.
Goraya says support groups and communication are very vital and action has to be taken.
“Grass root work has to be done. We have to educate the masses and the best way to do it is to teach students, so they know about Islam, and they know about their peers and friends who are Muslim.”
Goraya added that support groups are needed at this time.
“We need more professors on campus talking about issues that are affecting all minorities. Students shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out and discussing their feelings.”
Since the attack, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that gun laws will be tightened, and the victims will be given $10,000 to cover funeral costs. There will also be benefit programs catered to victims who will suffer financially for up to years.