Quebecers unite in memory of victims of mosque shooting

Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

The evening after the shooting on January 29, thousands of people attended a vigil at Notre-Dame-de-Foy Church, near the Islamic Cultural Centre. Many left candles, flowers and messages of sympathy and support for the families of the victims.

Thousands of mourners gathered at the historic site of Notre-Dame-de-Foy Church at the corner of Route de l’Église and Chemin Sainte-Foy on the evening of January 30. They took part in a vigil in memory of the victims of the shooting at the nearby Centre culturel islamique de Québec the day before. Leaders of all levels of government and local community heads delivered speeches, and religious leaders led people in prayer. 

“January 29, 2017, will remain etched on our hearts forever as an extremely sad event. Yesterday, innocent men died and so many others were wounded,” said Sébastien Bouchard, who co-organized the vigil. “We are gathered here to express our solidarity with the victims’ loved ones, for their families, their friends, and for all people of the Muslim faith. Today, like yesterday, we do not tolerate racism. We are all Quebecers. When one of us is targeted, we are all targeted. This vigil is a citizens’ initiative to allow people to grieve.”

“Twenty-four hours ago, we lost six members of our city, fathers of families. We will live this grief together,” said Mayor Régis Labeaume. “We must speak of resilience and how we refuse to change what is fundamentally good in Quebec City. The consequences of this event must be to reject those who find fulfilment in hatred.”

“Quebec City is a tight community where everyone knows everyone and where a network of connections unites everyone,” said Premier Philippe Couillard. “We are saying No to violence, rejection and hatred. The world is watching us. We are showing them who we are.” 

“Last night, this community experienced something that no community should have to know,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; “unspeakable violence perpetrated on people who came together in friendship and in faith.... Our responsibility is to those who have been injured and to you, the citizens of Quebec City, and members of Muslim communities all across Canada. I hope Canadians will respond to this event with all their hearts. Peace unites us.”

MP for Louis-Hébert Joël Lightbound offered deepest condolences to the Muslim citizens of his riding. In his speech in the House of Commons on February 1, Lightbound asked their forgiveness for not having paid closer attention to their reality and not taking better measures to protect them, especially after recent hate messages and broken windows. 

After the speeches and two minutes of silence, the crowd walked solemnly to the Centre culturel islamique de Québec. Many carried signs with messages of peace, denouncing racism or stating that Quebec is inclusive, comprising all nationalities, races and religions, including Muslims. 

Messages, flowers and lit candles were placed on the steps of the Centre and at the entrance of the Notre-Dame-de-Foy Church. The most touching signs and letters were messages to the husbands, fathers, sons and friends who had died.

Azzedine Soufiane, 57, Moroccan descent, a local grocer and father of three.
Aboubaker Thabti, 44, from Tunisia, pharmacy technician, father of two children.
Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Algerian, computer programmer, father of three.
Khaled Belkacemi, 60, professor of Agriculture and Food Sciences at Université Laval.
Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, computer technician, father of two, and 
Ibrahima Barry, 39, worked at Quebec Revenue, father of four. Both were friends from Guinea. 

May they rest in peace  

Ibrahima Barry

Mamadou Tanou Barry

Khaled Belkacemi

Abdelkrim Hassane

Azzeddine Soufiane

Aboubaker Thabti