Montrealers of different cultural and religious backgrounds gathered in Park-Extension to honour the lives of the family killed in the June 6 London, Ont., vehicle attack.
It was the same spot where people gathered in 2017 to mourn the victims of the Quebec City Mosque attack.
“It is the minimum that we can do as Canadians and as humans, to come together to show solidarity and support for the people who lost their lives and the remaining child,” said Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum and one of the event’s organizers.
Several federal cabinet ministers including Justice Minister David Lametti and members of Parliament such as Pablo Rodriguez made an appearance.
Local politicians included Montreal mayor Valérie Plante, among others.
Given the platform, Majzoub says it’s important to stand in solidarity with the victims but to also push for government action.
Majzoub and other people in attendance say they’ve seen a rise in Islamophobia, anti-semitism and other forms of hate and intolerance.
He believes that politicians have a role to play in preventing intolerance through the policies they choose to bring forward, including Bill 21, Quebec’s legislation barring people from wearing religious garb when in certain positions of authority, such as teachers.
“I will not go that far to relating Bill 21 to that terrorism act,” said Majzoub. But he admitted such legislation “plays in the atmosphere of hate and discrimination.”
Meanwhile, Benoit Charette, Quebec’s minister responsible for the fight against racism who was at the vigil, continues to defend the controversial Bill.
“Those who think this bill gives them any reason to act with any reason are totally wrong and have to be condemned, and we do condemn them firmly,” Charette said.
“This is a bill to put common grounds. It’s not a bill that can give a reason to anybody to act with some disrespect or racism.”
On Friday, federal MPs unanimously backed a call for an emergency summit on Islamophobia, prompted by the attack.
Majzoub says that a summit is a good start, but he’d like to see more.
“Any move is good,” Majzoub said.
“Yes, there is an openness. We believe there are ears hearing us, but we need to move from good talk, from meetings, into actions.”
The government is also planning to hold a summit on combating anti-semitism, which has seen similar spikes in recent months.
— With files from Global’s Amanda Connolly