As New Zealand marks a day of mourning for the 50 victims killed in a terrorist attack on two mosques last Friday, Yellowknifers gathered to do the same.
The parking lot outside the Islamic Centre of Yellowknife, the city’s mosque, filled with residents of all ages Friday, some carrying photos of those killed in the Christchurch attack.
Each victim’s name was read out with a short statement about their lives, family and life aspirations cut short. Two minutes of silence followed.
Organizer of the vigil Tee Lim, who hails from Taranaki, on New Zealand’s north island, says all people should feel safe wherever they chose to make their home.
“We grieve with you, we mourn with you and we stand with you. Kotahi tātou, we are one,” he told the crowd.
Mayor Rebecca Alty expressed her support for the local Muslim community and her conviction that diversity is strength in Yellowknife. “The city wants you to know you are valued, you are part of what makes the city so diverse and unique and you enrich us through your values of faith, charity and family.”
Chair of the Islamic Centre Nazim Awan praised the response of the people of New Zealand following the deadly attack on a group of people who are a minority in that country.
“The government, the leadership and people, they came together and they showed humanity how to help the people who don’t belong to that society, who are different” he says. “They said you are not others, you are us. That is the message we have to take.”
Awan also expressed his thanks for the support the Yellowknife community showed following the 2017 attack on a Quebec mosque, as well as the flowers, cards and donations the community has received since last Friday. He urged people to connect, to counter fear-based action.
“Don’t stop here. Remember that this incident is due to fear. Reach out to Muslims or people you don’t know, ask questions, go for coffee.”