'This is Canada': Winnipeggers gather after Quebec City mosque shooting

Winnipeggers gathered at two locations Monday night to hold a vigil and pray for victims of the mosque shooting in Quebec City Sunday night.

Hundreds attended vigil at the Legislature and prayer at Grand Mosque

People gathered at the Manitoba Legislature to honour the six people killed, and 19 injured, in the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

Hundreds of Winnipeggers chanted "Make racists afraid again" in unison in front of the legislature on Monday evening. 

Holding signs that read "Stop the hate" and "We are Canadian," the group also took a moment of silence for the victims of the mosque shooting in Quebec City Sunday night.

The vigil honoured the six people killed, and 19 injured, in the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Islamic cultural centre of Quebec). One person has been arrested.

Humaira Jaleel and her children, nine-year-old Rida and eight-year-old Rayyan Rahman, held a sign that read "Winnipeg stands with you."

At first Jaleel said she wanted to hide what happened from her kids, but decided it was important to bring them out to the vigil.

"I figured, when this vigil was happening, that I need to be here because there are so many people that are going to be here and I wanted to be with them as a Muslim," she said.

"And I wanted my kids to know that this is Canada. You don't need to be afraid. There are so many Canadian people who are with you."

The vigil began around 6 p.m. and speakers included Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson. 

Ahmed Farag, with the Manitoba Islamic Association, said the huge turnout shows that a diverse society can not only function, it can thrive. 

"Yesterday six of our fellow citizens fell but today thousands across Canada and the world stand together," he said. 

Later in the evening the Winnipeg Grand Mosque opened its doors for a special prayer organized by the Manitoba Islamic Association. The atmosphere was tense as the room crowded with people from all different faiths before the funeral prayer. 

The Winnipeg Grand Mosque opened its doors to people of all faiths for a special prayer. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

But speeches helped to calm the crowd, including words from Fort Rouge MLA Wab Kinew, who said it is everyone's responsibility to combat hate and intolerance. 

"Speaking as a politician, if I need to say something discriminatory to get elected then that election is not worth winning," Kinew told the crowd, who erupted in cheers. 

"Speaking as a human being, if I have to tear down my brother or my sister to make myself feel better then it is not them who are the problem, it is me and I have work to do." 

Doug Parmiter, 27, says he came to the mosque to show support for Winnipeg's Muslim community. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Doug Parmiter doesn't usually spend his evenings in a mosque for prayer. The 27-year-old is not a Muslim but felt it was important to show solidarity. 

"I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be Muslim right now. It would be very scary," Parmiter said. "I mean, I am a privileged white male. I don't really know what oppression feels like. I don't know what it is like to be the target." 

It was important to see other non-Muslims in the mosque, he added, because there needs to be a community effort to "stand against the normalization of Islamophobia."

Wasim Hyder moved to Canada from Pakistan only four months ago. He brought his 15-year-old son, Fasih Jalbani, to the mosque to show him how their new home supported them. 

"I feel so proud to be Canadian today. I have said it to my son … this is a blessing from our God, given the opportunity to be a part of this nation," he said. 

Jalbani added that seeing all of the people from all different faiths brought him comfort. 

"Since all of Canada is with us, all of Winnipeg is with us, we feel safe and we can come to our mosques and pray," he said.

With files from Erin Brohman