We, the Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union, are deeply saddened and angry at the news of the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City last night. Just as evening prayers were commencing, the congregants were attacked because of their religion. An attack on a place of worship, targeting a specific minority community, is an attack on the very foundation of our national ethos. Now is the time to mourn those who were killed, but also to redouble our determination that the hatred and fear at the heart of this attack do not spread throughout our communities.
Though it is too early to determine the specific motivating factors for this attack, we must be cognizant of the atmosphere we find ourselves in. We have seen a marked increase in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and transphobic language here on our campus, and also in our communities. The same hate mongering that we have witnessed during the recent American elections is being mirrored in our own country’s politics. We cannot allow these sentiments to go unchallenged, and we cannot retreat into the fantasy that words have no power. Words matter. Hatred is not “Free Speech”, and to believe otherwise is to wilfully blind ourselves to what occurred in the prayer hall in Quebec City.
Early reports have identified the attacker as a fellow university student, and this morning there is a campus coming to terms with the reality that one of their students is capable of this monstrosity. We, as University of Toronto students must also come to terms with the reality that there is nothing different about our campus, nothing different about our communities, that protects us from this hatred. In order to fight against Islamophobia, antisemitism, and transphobia, we need to visibly demonstrate that Muslims, Jews, and Transpeople are welcome and integral members of our school, and communities. We need to demonstrate that when they are attacked our entire community is attacked.
As always, the Arts and Science Students’ Union is open for any student to grieve in any way they feel comfortable. We continue to endeavour to make our campus a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, and to work for the equity that our nation purports to strive for.
If you are capable, please consider attending one of the vigils on or near our campus:
In solidarity and strength,
The Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union