Citizens mourn shooting victims

Crowd shows support for Muslims in the wake of killings at Quebec City mosque.

  • Feb. 1, 2017 1:00 p.m.
Mustafa Zakreet

Mustafa Zakreet

Jim Elliot and Martha Wickett
Salmon Arm Observer

A father of two children, aged three and 11. A father of four children, aged 13, seven, three and two. A father of three children, aged 10, eight and 15 months.

These were just three of the six men, husbands and fathers who were murdered at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec mosque in Quebec City Sunday. All six men were named and remembered during a candlelight vigil in Salmon Arm Monday night.

Clara Scheil, who organized the vigil with Cindy Derkaz, mentioned the murderer, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette, but said the more than 80 people gathered outside Salmon Arm city hall were not there for him.

“We are here for the victims,” she said, before she named each man, listing their backgrounds and their children who must grow up without them.

Along with the six people killed, a further 19 people were injured in the Jan. 29 attack. Scheil said five were still in hospital.

“Love is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than fear. Living in Salmon Arm, I have no fear,” said Scheil, who is a Muslim.

Scheil referred to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre’s reaction to the massacre: “An attack against people gathered in peaceful prayer is an islamophobic assault that concerns all of us.”

Mayor Nancy Cooper spoke of Quebec City’s history as a fortress, and the need now to be a fortress against hate, fear and division.

“Today they need us to offer love, support and compassion… We stand together.”

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, who grew up in Quebec City and mentioned what a hard days it had been, repeated the speech in French.

Derkaz, a member of the group of volunteers who worked to bring the Syrian refugees to Salmon Arm, spoke of Canadians’ sorrow.

“We want to say how terribly, terribly sorry we are and how we share in the grief.”

Mustafa Zakreet, Salmon Arm’s first Syrian refugee, spoke.

“We all belong to God and we shall return to him,” he said, explaining that is what is traditionally said in such situations.

He said he wished people were gathered for a happier occasion, and spoke of how warmly Salmon Arm has treated him and other refugees, how he feels the community has become his home.

“We’ve seen all the love, the respect…, the community has been so generous.”

He then led the other Muslims present in prayer, including prayers to the souls of the victims of the shootings in Quebec and their families, and to Canada.

Marcia Beckner led O Canada in English at the beginning of the vigil and in French to close.