A group of neighbours surrounding the Jami Mosque Islamic Centre of Toronto in Roncesvalles are tying white ribbons around street poles and trees with the message “all faiths welcome” to show solidarity in the aftermath of the Quebec mosque shooting.
It started Sunday afternoon when Jessica Olivier said she was upset to hear about U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order putting travel restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries.
“We knew that there would probably be people in Canada affected by the travel ban,” Olivier said.
“Certainly even more so, members of our local mosque. That’s when it really started to hit home and we thought we should do something and reach out [to the mosque] to let them know we are with them and we do not accept this as being normal.”
However, it was the deadly shooting at a Quebec mosque that left six dead and several others injured that pushed the group to mobilize fast.
They distributed white ribbons to residents living on Boustead Ave. in Roncesvalles and asked people to tie them around the neighbourhood.
Katherine Gelter helped Olivier organize the ribbon campaign and said Sunday’s shooting left her wanting to spread the good deed around her community.
“I was very sad. I was horrified and I was very concerned for the victims and I thought about the children who were going to hear that their father or relatives would not be coming home but I was also very scared for our neighbours at the Jamie mosque,” Gelter said.
“The last thing our neighbours wanted was to have people coming to the mosque to pray and feeling like they weren’t welcome on our street.”
By Tuesday, white ribbons could be seen tied to street poles and trees along Boustead Ave.
“When you see a small simple act of kindness create that ripple effect, it’s very heartwarming to see that it can override – or go beyond – the message of intolerance,” Gelter said.
Amjed Syed, administrator at the Jami mosque said he was moved to see the white ribbons tied around the street.
“We have a good relationship with the neighbours for a long period time,” Syed said.
“What you see today is very heartwarming. It was always there but it is now an outward expression of the same sentiment.”
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