Tuesday, 31 January 2017

This is who we are

Gale force winds and bitter snow.
Yet still we gather.
In our parkas and toques and mittens and scarves.
With our candles blowing out in the wind.
Because we are Canadians.

This is who we are.

Faces in the crowd
Men and women.
Children and seniors.
People of all colours and religions and orientations.
Huddled in the snow to bear witness.
To pray.
To tell our Muslim brothers and sisters

This is who we are.

The English teacher speaks.
"These are the names of those who died
The names I know so far
Azzeddine Soufiane, a butcher, a grocer, a father of three
Khaled Belkacemi, a university professor
Aboubaker Thabti, a father of two young children..."

A moment of silence in their names.

The imam speaks, his voice strong and clear and unafraid.
"Imagine you are prostrate before your Creator, 

Your face to the ground, asking for his mercy
That is when you die. When you are closest to God."

"Terrorism has no religion."

"Gandhi said
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny."

"We must educate the ignorant. Invite strangers into our homes. Learn about each other."

A First Nations woman steps out of the crowd
“As a Treaty Eight person, I know about what it is like
Not to be allowed to practice your spirituality.
That happened to our people.
And I want to welcome you
We are all equal human beings
You have a home on Treaty Eight land.”

The MLA speaks
"We cannot deny that there is hatred among us.
Such a violent act of terror came from hate.
But there is something stronger than hate and fear.
Love and hope."

Another voice.
"It is time to educate the racists and the bigots.
It is time to speak out
It is time to stand up
It is time to remember there is strength in diversity."

When someone dies
People come together
To honour the dead
To find strength in community
To celebrate a life
This vigil
A time to remember
A time to stand up
A time to celebrate

This is who we are.