One month after dozens of people in Cold Lake came together to clean hate graffiti off the walls of a mosque, Muslims in the community held a special prayer service and forum to thank neighbours for their support.
The Cold Lake mosque was spray painted with the words “Go home” just days after Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed in Ottawa last month.
- Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's killer approached from behind, fired twice
- Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's family: 'He belonged to all of us'
- Cpl. Nathan Cirillo mourned at funeral in Hamilton
- Rex Murphy: Cpl. Nathan Cirillo a hero and true patriot
Within hours of the spray paint appearing, residents armed with cleaning supplies showed up to undo the damage and post messages of welcome and inclusion.
In thanks for that gesture, mosque members invited community members to attend a special service on Sunday and hosted a larger discussion about religious tolerance.
In addition to thanking his neighbours, organizer Riaz Ingar said he also wanted to use the opportunity to share information about Muslim practises and beliefs, as well as “the true teachings of Islam.”
“We wanted to highlight the support that we've had from the greater Cold Lake community, so that's the main reason why we've had this event,” he said.
“And to use this opportunity as well to have a lecture to explain to people the Islamic perspective of what it means to be a good neighbour and to live in harmony together.”
RCMP Const. Kim Grenier has lived in Cold Lake for 20 years, but said until Sunday she knew very little about the Muslim community in town.
“For me, it’s so important and so wonderful to see that the Muslim community has opened their arms and offered us this opportunity to really discover the similarities between what the Muslims believe ... and what the rest of the community believes that Muslims believe,” she said.
“We’re not that different and we need to keep an open mind and respect each other.”
Now, Ingmar said the Muslim community plans to have more events like this in the future.
“That positive engagement needs to go forward from here. The main thing is we wanted to turn what could have been a negative incident into something positive for Muslims in Cold Lake, and for the greater community at large, and being an example for the rest of the country.
So far, no charges have been laid in the vandalism incident.