More than 1,000 people gathered on Gerrard Street E. and Coxwell Avenue on Jan. 30 after six people were killed and others injured in the Quebec City mosque shooting the day before.
Vigil organizer Joanne Doucette said she was stunned to see a large number of people from different backgrounds attend on such short notice.
“I hope we never have to walk like this again and people will not take what the leaders in other countries say as permission to do things that essentially evil,” Doucette said.
She called the shooting a very sad act. She said she has opposed hatred towards Muslims for years but today she had to do more about it.
Doucette said she organized the event mainly through phone calls, as she does not have computer apparatus or fax machines. “It shows how much people care,” she said.
Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns said he was pleased to see so many people at the vigil to show their solidarity, their support and their opposition to bigotry and prejudice.
“When you have the president of the United States encouraging, fanning the flames of bigotry globally, there’s no surprise at the end death will come out of it,” Tabuns said.
Ken Wyman, a member of the Danforth Jewish Circle, was holding a sign saying “Jewish + Muslims together.” Others had signs of “Peace,” “Love” and “Refugees are welcome.”
Wyman said he was here for the people who have suffered and Canada is one of the rare countries where people can live as friends and neighbours.
“We need to stand together or we will fall individually,” Wyman said, “We are all one people and I want to defend that.”
Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher said her community has always fought racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Heritage Front.
“We are one neighbourhood and we will surround those who need our help with love and care,” Fletcher said.
People with candlelight walked silently towards Fatih mosque on Rhodes Avenue. The imam prayed for the victims of the shooting as well as for unity among Canadians.
Robin Wardlaw, a United Church Minister in the area, said it is so sad that someone would pick up a weapon and attack people at prayers.
“Our hearts are filled with sadness for people in Quebec city,” Wardlaw said. He said that with the current political climate “these next few years we will need each other all the time, so keep your candles and signs ready.”
A member of the Pakistani Progressive Community said it is a pity people have become so sophisticated in spreading hatred. She said the only way to abide hate is to think of a person as a human rather than his colour, race, or religion.
The mass shooting had occurred at the Islamic Culture Centre in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood in Quebec City leaving six dead and 19 injured. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been charged with multiple counts including six first-degree murder charges.