Canada News

Islamophobia in Canada

10 June 2021 at 21:25 | 783 views

By Kahir Lalji, Executive Director, United Way, Vancouver, Canada

This morning I was asked by two neighbours if it was safe to walk to the mall three crosswalks away. The reason they asked is because of the colour of their skin and the clothes they were wearing.

My heart is heavy right now as we mourn the senseless loss of four innocent lives in London, Ontario. The lives of four members of a loving family, ranging in age from 15 to 74, were cut devastatingly short and a nine-year-old child is now left as an orphan. This was a deliberate act of terrorism fueled by Islamophobia and hatred.

They were simply enjoying a walk in their community.

When we often hear of such tragedies, we tend to shake our heads in disbelief and write it off as a rare occurrence. The victims become statistics and some of us may move on to the next day’s news. But we don’t often do is take the time to consider the impact the loss of life has on us as a larger community. No matter the age or background of the victims, the pain and loss are immeasurable. We lost a daughter, mother, father and grandmother. We lost a high school student with tremendous potential, and we lost talented colleagues and kind neighbours. Extended family and friends lost on future opportunities to capture more memories, laughs, and hugs. The nine-year-old survivor lost his whole family.

We should not let this family’s story become “old news”. We should use it to spur us to act. To stand with our Muslim friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. To condemn all acts of Islamophobia, racism and hate. Period.

To my Sisters and Brothers in Islam, to our Muslim friends, family, colleagues and neighbours - we stand and mourn with you and we recognize this act has damaged your sense of peace and safety in the country you rightfully call home. This is not right.

Simply, thoughts and prayers are not enough anymore. This means taking action in educating ourselves, talking to Muslim members of our communities, learning from one another, and doing the work to eradicate this vile hate and racism that has never disappeared in our country but has become more dangerously bold and violent in recent years.