Last Wednesday, the Muslim Students’ Association, in collaboration with UTMSU, held a memorial event featuring community guest speakers to talk about the six victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting that took place on January 29.

Imam Ibrahim Hindy, an imam at Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre, was one of the guest speakers, who offered his advice on how to contextualize pain in such situations.

“You cannot be disheartened. You can’t lose hope,” he said. “Part of the issue is that we don’t have our goals set out. When you have your goals set, you can endure. And you can persevere.” According to Hindy, not having a goal means not being able to deal with abuse and hardship.

Yasin Dwyer, a chaplain at Ryerson University, also explored coping mechanisms to deal with grief. After naming each of the victims of the shooting, he stated how important it was to remember their names. “They have left a legacy, not only for their families, but they have left a legacy for us, as well. We have gathered here to celebrate their lives.”

He further discussed how to deal with not only the stress caused by the shooting, but also stress that is caused by everyday lives.

“Sometimes, we are too shy to admit that we need help, that we need assistance,” Dwyer said. “We need to have an open acknowledgement that, yes, mental health and counselling are realities within our community.”

Both speakers also emphasized the need for a conversation about Islamophobia to take place.

Some students were also given a chance to share their thoughts and express their feelings about the shooting.

Zineb Hamaimou, a fourth-year student studying International Affairs and Economics, presented a spoken word that captured her reaction.

“I was inspired to write a spoken word because I feel it’s an artistic way to reach out to people. I have faced Islamophobia before, and I realize it doesn’t come from hateful people, it comes from those that label people with different beliefs as ‘the other’,” said Hamaimou to The Medium. “I wanted to write a spoken word that speaks about the beauty in our differences.”

In an email to The Medium, Maleeha Baig, UTMSU’s VP equity, expressed her grief about the shooting incident.

“I feel heartbroken and traumatized by the recent events in Quebec,” she wrote. “It shocks me that there are people in this country who will use violence against another group of people based on their religion.”

UTMSU will be working on an anti-Islamophobia coalition with the attempt to further work on “eliminating Islamophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression used against marginalized groups,” according to Baig.