Families of Quebec City mosque victims face financial struggle

At least a half-dozen Quebec City families have no regular income following the mosque shooting which left six men dead, and five critically injured.

Many of those killed, injured in the mosque attack were the sole breadwinners of the family

A man prays at the Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre, where flowers, cards and letters of condolence are displayed on the floors and walls. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)

Many wives of the men killed or injured in last week's Quebec City shooting at a mosque are wondering how they will support themselves and their children.

At least six of the victims were either the sole breadwinner of their family or self-employed. That's left their families with no regular income.

"[The shooting] happened on Jan. 29. On the first of February there is rent to pay, but I know the bank accounts of the deceased people are blocked, so it's complicated," said Mohamed Haroun, treasurer at the Islamic Cultural Centre.

The attack on the Quebec City mosque left six men dead and 19 others wounded. As a result, there are now six widows, five mothers who split their time between their home and the hospital, 17 fatherless children and more than two dozen children whose fathers are recovering from gunshot wounds and the emotional trauma of what they witnessed.

One of thousands of handwritten letters to the families of the victims of the deadly Jan. 29, 2017 shooting at Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)

Haroun said the mosque started by giving each family money, to deal with what he called "immediate needs." 

For example, the families of five of the six men who were killed have travelled to their countries of origin for funerals and to bury their loved ones. There were plane tickets to buy, sometimes for up to six people.

People from across Canada and the United States have been mailing in letters and cards of condolences, many of them with cheques.

Haroun and some friends have been scrolling through the pages of online fundraising sites, such as GoFundMe, which charge up to 8 per cent for taking the donations. So far, he found more than a dozen dedicated to the mosque victims' families.

Flowers and cards inside Quebec City mosque

5 years ago
Duration 1:01
Mohamed Haroun, treasurer at the Islamic Cultural Centre, shows CBC the flowers and cards sent in by people across the province to honour the shooting victims.

Two Muslim non-profit organizations, Dawanet and Islamic Relief Canada, have received a combined total of more than $600,000 in donations.

"Even if it's $600,000 or $700,000, it will never replace a father or a husband" said Haroun. "I think every dollar will help these kids. There are children as young as two or three, who still have 15 years until they will go to university or to be adults. So every dollar will help."

The best way to donate, said Haroun, is from a link on the Islamic Cultural Centre's own website, where there is a link to an online donation website which will provide receipts for tax purposes.

with files from Catou MacKinnon