On January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City with a gun and murdered six worshippers, while injuring 19 others shortly after evening prayers.
Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane had their lives viciously taken away from them. This year marks the fourth anniversary that their families were left to navigate a new reality of unimaginable loss – and Muslim communities and Canadians across the country have lived through the memory and trauma of this insidious act of hate.
Today we remember and honour those who lost their lives – as well as echo calls from the numerous Muslim leaders who have spoken out and called on the federal government to officially designate January 29 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.
We, as a labour movement, must make it a priority to unequivocally stand up against the white supremacy and divisive rhetoric that are often at the root of these violent manifestations of Islamophobia. There is deep healing that can be made possible when we take actions that specifically dismantle this form of hate. But this is only possible if we commit to acknowledging it, denouncing it, and working to understand all the ways in which we still allow it to happen.
During this pandemic, we have continued to see a rise in racist hate crimes and abuse in marginalized communities all over the country. Now more than ever, we need leadership from organizations, including in the labour movement, and every level of government that not only builds a Canada of true inclusivity, equity and justice – but also actively works to break down systems and barriers that foster hatred and the collective oppression of racialized people. As leaders in the labour movement, we have an important role to play in pushing for, and also being an example of, this change.
This January 29th we mourn and remember the lives lost, and we recommit to combatting intolerance, racism and islamophobia in every form that it takes.