Vigil held for Muslim family killed in London

People standing at the vigil. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)
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The Yellowknife Islamic Centre held a vigil for the members of the Afzaal family who were killed in a terrorist attack in London on Sunday.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Salman, 15, and her grandmother Talat Afzaal, 74, were hit by a vehicle while out for a walk Sunday evening in Londo, in Ontario.

One member of the family, their 9 year-old son, survived with injuries.

The vigil, held at Somba Ke’e Park on Thursday, was attended by politicians like Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty, representatives from the Dene Nation and other faith groups in the city.

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Awan speaking at the vigil, hosted by the Yellowknife Islamic Centre. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)

Yellowknife Islamic Centre Chair Nazim Awan said the crowd should continue to show love and support each other.

I have a one a special relationship with the family who’s killed, they are from Pakistan, I am from Pakistan, the family profile of the Afzaal family and mine is 100% identical

“I have a special anger for that, what happened to them,” he said. “But as our speaker said, and the teaching of Islam has taught us, we will support the message of love and community. So, please continue to show this attitude of love, diversity, acceptance, and let’s give message to the rest of the Canada that we will not tolerate this type of Canada.”

Muhammed Ali, vice-chair of the Yellowknife Islamic Centre, said the events in London had forced him to have some emotional conversations with his children.

Ali speaking at the vigil. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)

“I got a phone call from my child. She was asking me, ‘Dad, are we supposed to stay in and not go out anymore?’” he said. “That was the most difficult question I had been asked in my life.”

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“The answer is you cannot hide because we are not intimidated by any form of terror or any form of oppression,” he added. “Go out and there are so many people out there who will love you.”

Gerri Sharpe, vice-president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada said it was important 

“That misguided young man was taught hate. Hate is taught. Hate is observed. That is a learned behavior. Love is natural,” said Sharpe.

Sharpe called on residents to speak up when they see instances of racism in their community.

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“Silence is violence,” she added. “My expectations of all the politicians here tonight is that you will take this to heart, you will feel the pain.”

“My children would not want this, my grandchildren will not see this.”

Awan said that he would work towards having a “national congress” to try and address Islamophobia in Canada.

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