Vigil for Quebec City mosque shooting moves indoors for 2-year anniversary

A commemorative event to mark the 2-year anniversary of the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque will be held at Université Laval on January 29, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m..

Event at Université Laval on Jan. 29 will honour victims, families and first responders

Hundreds of people gathered on Jan. 29, 2018, to honour the victims of the shooting on the first anniversary, despite frigid temperatures. (Peter Tardif/CBC)

The public ceremony that will mark two years since the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque will move indoors, to the main pavilion at Université Laval.

Six men were killed and several others were wounded on Jan. 29, 2017, after a gunman entered the mosque as Sunday prayers were ending, just after 7:30 p.m..

Last year's vigil was held outside in frigid temperatures, near the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec (CCIQ) where the shooting took place, and was attended by hundreds of citizens as well as municipal, provincial and federal politicians.

The organizing committee decided on an indoor venue for 2019, to make the event more accessible and comfortable.

"The cold — being outside on January 29 — wasn't great for families to get around," said Sébastien Bouchard, one of the members of the organizing committee.

Bouchard hopes having a closed space will allow people to share with others in attendance, "which isn't always easy when it's -20 degrees."

The details of the evening are still being finalized, but Bouchard said there will speeches from survivors, families of the victims, as well as from mayor Régis Labeaume.

While the city is supporting the citizen committee, it is not responsible for the organization of the event.

The ceremony will also pay tribute to victims of other terrorist attacks, including the six Quebecers who were killed in Burkina Faso on Jan. 15, 2015.

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume is expected to attend this year's ceremony, as well as other representatives of the federal and provincial governments. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

First responders and caregivers who were called to the scene of the shooting and who have helped the victims since will also be honoured, said Bouchard.

One of the victims of the shooting, Khaled Belkacemi, was also a professor at the university's soil and food engineering department.

His eldest daughter, Megda, was also part of the organizing committee, which also consulted with the CCIQ.

Song and art

As of noon on Jan. 29, students will be invited to contribute to a giant art installation, which will be unveiled during the evening.

A photo exhibit, called Femmes musulmanes et Québécoises, will also be set up in the Agora of the Desjardins Pavilion during the ceremony, which will last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m..

A choir will also be present "to add an artistic aspect" to the evening, said Bouchard.

He said the committee, that organized a spontaneous outdoor vigil the day after the attack, continues to work together to support the families and the community, but also to counter political discourse "that doesn't always celebrate diversity and immigration."

"We want to express our desire to build an inclusive society that is proud of its diversity," he said.

Aymen Derbali, a victim who was shot seven times, spoke to the crowd on the first anniversary. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

With files from Radio-Canada's Alexandre Duval