Canada wraps its arms around victims of mosque attack

In the days since six Muslims were shot and killed inside a Quebec City mosque where they'd come to pray, Canadians everywhere have countered the hateful act through gestures of kindness, solidarity and support. Here are some of your stories.

Canadians unite through gestures of solidarity in wake of shooting that left 6 dead in Quebec City

Outside their school in the same neighbourhood as the mosque, Sainte-Foy grade four students honoured the shooting victims. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

In the days since six Muslims were shot and killed inside a Quebec City mosque where they'd come to pray, Canadians everywhere have countered the hateful act through gestures of kindness, solidarity and support.

On Monday, tens of thousands of Canadians gathered to honour the victims at impromptu vigils from east to west and as far north as Iqaluit, Nunavut

On Friday, while thousands gathered at the public funeral for three of the slain men in Quebec City, in cities across Canada, people of all faiths gathered at their community's mosque in love and solidarity.

In Toronto, for example, hundreds of Jews and Christians formed protective "rings of peace" around mosques, an initiative of Rabbi Yael Splansky of Holy Blossom Temple.

Many Canadians have gone an extra mile, finding unique ways to reach out and show Muslims in their communities that one violent act does not represent Canada as a whole. 

We asked for your stories and have included some of them in this gallery.

A Dartmouth church posted a bold message on its sign in support of its Muslim brothers and sisters.

The morning after the deadly mosque attack, the music director at Grace United Church in Dartmouth, N.S. was on the treadmill at the gym, watching the news.

He decided something had to be said. 

"I just felt that in many ways every Canadian had been assaulted by this event, and it didn't matter whether you were Christians, atheists or Muslim or Jewish or whatever," Malcolm Bradley told CBC News. 

The church recently sponsored a family of Syrian refugees, and Rev. Stephen Fram said the cultural exchange taught the congregation a valuable lesson.

"We all believe and worship the God of love."

This is what's posted outside Grace United Church in Dartmouth, N.S. this week. (Jeff Reilly/CBC)

Anonymous neighbours left roses outside a Montreal area mosque that's been threatened in the past.

It was a much needed gesture of support on a difficult day for the president of the mosque in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, Mehmet Deger: a bouquet of roses and a sympathy card left anonymously on the front steps of the building.

The note, signed "your Dorval neighbours" reads: 

"We are devastated by such a brutal act. How do we explain this to all of our children? My family and I offer you these roses as a small but sincere token of our compassion and understanding."

The mosque has been vandalized several times over the years, and for Deger, the flowers were a touching reminder that he has the support of many in the community.

The president of the Dorval Mosque, Mehmet Deger, found these flowers and a kind note outside the mosque, which has been targeted by vandals in the past. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

'You are safe here': Toronto high school students sent letters of hope and love to a neighbourhood mosque.

The morning after the deadly mosque attack, Toronto high school teacher Sam Pisani tossed out his lesson plan for the day.

Instead, he asked his Grade 11 students at Humberside Collegiate if they would each write a letter to a local mosque.

At the end of the day, he delivered 17 handwritten notes from his class to the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre in Toronto.

For more on this story tap here.

'You are safe here,' a 16-year-old student writes to Muslims in Toronto. (Ilyas Ally/Facebook)

Children at a school near the Quebec City mosque prayed for the victims.

Students at an elementary school near the mosque in Quebec City's Sainte-Foy borough where the attack occurred took time on Tuesday to honour the victims of the deadly attack.

Fourth-grade children placed handcrafted signs in the snow in front of their school, under a banner that reads, in French, "All united."

Before returning inside, the students knelt to pray outside. 

Grade 4 students at Notre-Dame-De-Foy elementary school pray outside after posting messages of support for the victims of the mosque shooting. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

A Muslim-Jewish couple started a Go Fund Me campaign for the victims' families.

Romina Nadeem was three years old when she moved to Montreal from Pakistan with her family. It's been difficult for her to accept a violent act like the Quebec City shooting can happen in Canada. 

"My family came here to escape from any difficulties we had in Pakistan, and to see that happen in Quebec ... it's sad," Nadeem said.

Her fiancé, Romney Copeman, woke up the morning after the deadly attack and, after consulting with Nadeem, he started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for the families of the victims. 

"It was a really good feeling to know that I'm with somebody who understands what the value of a human life is," Nadeem said. "He chose to do this because he saw a community in pain."

So far, their campaign has raised more than $7,500.

The couple has been in contact with the treasurer at the Quebec Islamic Centre and plans to ensure all the funds go to the families of the victims and the mosque that was targeted.

Romina Nadeem, who is Muslim, and her fiancé Romney Copeman, who is Jewish, say they both come from strong communities but respect one another's differences. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Quilters put the call out for 'house' quilt blocks to offer gifts to victims' families.

Stephanie Baldwin is a quilter, and the morning after the attack, she posted a call to action to members of the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild and to quilters everywhere.

"This act of terrorism simply will not stand and in the hopes of sending a little comfort and strong message of support to our neighbours in their time of need, we are doing what we do as a quilt guild — we are making quilts." 

Baldwin has asked people to send in quilt blocks of houses, to "remind the recipients that this is their home, that they are an important part of this community." The plan is to make a quilt for the families of each of the six victims and for those who were injured, as well.

(submitted by Stephanie Baldwin)

There really are Little Mosques on the Prairie, and many felt the love of their neighbours of every faith.

Just a few days before the shooting attack in Quebec City, a group of men and women from Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Regina spent an evening at the Madni Islamic Centre learning about Islam. As soon as they learned of Sunday's incident, they sent flowers and a note offering their prayers.

In Yellowknife (OK, north of the Prairies!) the chairman of the ISNA Canada Islamic Centre, Nazim Awan, was deluged with calls and emails from people he didn't know.

One man asked if he could come and visit the centre, and Awan invited him to bring his friends.

Word spread quickly, and that evening more than 300 people came to the vigil, despite the –30 C weather.

"Yellowknifers support for Muslims by visiting YK Islamic Centre was impressive," Awan wrote CBC Montreal. "We feel safe and appreciate our friends' and neighbours' kind actions."

As soon as citizens of Fort McMurray, Alta., learned of the attack, many came by the Markaz-ul-Islam Mosque to drop off sympathy cards and flowers.

Hundreds gathered at the Jubilee Provincial Building in Fort McMurray on Wednesday, walking to the mosque in what they called a "unity walk for diversity and inclusion."

Canadians across the country did the same in their own communities, as the Shah Jalal Mosque in Montreal's Saint-Henri neighbourhood can attest to, below.

(Adil Ouazzanni/Facebook)

Students at a Montreal high school turn a class discussion into action.

High school teacher Jennifer Nadeau discussed the attack with her students at Collège d'Anjou on Monday, the morning after the shooting occurred.

"They mobilized to write these banners along with a message of support to the Muslim community," said Nadeau.

"The compassion that was shown is helping to comfort a community that needs to be spoken up for now more than ever," she said.

(submitted by Jennifer Nadeau)

A group of friends served hot chocolate at Montreal's vigil, and when it ran out, more appeared — along with 200 samosas.

Zahra Al-Mawlawi put out a call to friends on WhatsApp to distribute hot chocolate to those who attended Monday's vigil in Montreal for the shooting victims. 

"My friend and I held a sign translated in both French and English: "Solidarity Hot Chocolate" and "Chocolat Chaud de Solidarité," she said in a Facebook message to CBC Montreal.

Others in her group served Tim Horton's donuts and Timbits, and she said people's responses were gratifying.

"They came up, thanked us for keeping them warm, asked us questions about our faith, offered [their] condolences and wondered who we were," she said.

The supply of hot chocolate ran out within 20 minutes, however, before they could get to Tim Horton's to replenish it, a group of students showed up and dropped a few more cartons of hot chocolate on the table. Soon after, someone else showed up with 200 samosas.

"As odd a combination as it was, samosas and hot chocolate, it further emphasized the beauty of diversity and unity," Al-Mawlawi said.

(submitted by Zahra Al)

Vigil attendees create a 'live painting' for members of the Quebec City mosque targeted in the attack.

Aquil Virani is an artist and graphic designer who invited those attending Monday's vigil in Montreal to write messages in English, French, Spanish and Arabic to the victims of Sunday's attack, framing his depiction of Muslim hands in prayer, holding tasbih, or prayer beads.

The painting is being sent as a gift to the Islamic cultural centre in Sainte-Foy, where the attack occurred.

(submitted by Aquil Virani)