One year later: Anniversary of mosque attack marked by events, vigils across Canada

"These people died of bullet wounds, but also of ignorance and hatred," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Ottawa, before heading to Quebec City to mark the violent deaths of six Muslim men one year ago while they worshipped at their mosque. Other vigils are taking place across Canada.

'These people died of bullet wounds, but also of ignorance and hatred': Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

École Notre-Dame-de-Foy is steps away from the mosque where the shooting happened last year. Monday morning, students shared their messages of hope and peace in the school's windows. (Julia Caron/CBC)

Before heading to Quebec City to join a vigil Monday evening to mark the anniversary of the mosque shooting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a statement in the House of Commons. 

"These people died of bullet wounds, but also of ignorance and hatred," he said.

Trudeau called on Canadians to condemn acts of racism and to take a stand against Islamophobia and discrimination in all its forms.

"We must ask ourselves, have we done right by the men who lost their lives a year ago today?"

On Jan. 29, 2017, a man walked into the Quebec City mosque and shot at worshippers who had just finished their evening prayers, killing six men and critically injuring five others. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is to go on trial on six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder at the end of March.

Events start in nearby school

One year ago, students at the École Notre-Dame-de-Foy in the Quebec City suburb of Sainte-Foy found an ad hoc memorial in front of their school on the morning after the shooting — the school is just steps away from the scene of the attack. 

Fittingly, on Monday, students shared messages of peace, scribbled on pieces of paper and stuck to the windows.

Fourth-grader Eunice Monnet said the message made her think it was possible to affect others through simple actions.

"If we write these messages, maybe we can touch people's lives," Monnet said. 

Schools elsewhere in Quebec City highlighted the anniversary with songs and books of messages shared with the mosque's congregation. 

Montreal commemorates victims at City Hall 

Earlier Monday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante attended a ceremony to commemorate the victims at City Hall.

Plante, Benoit Dorais, chair of the city's executive committee, speaker Cathy Wong and Lionel Perez, leader of the opposition, all read passages from The Prophet, a book of poems by Khalil Gibran.

Representatives from the National Council of Canadian Muslims and from different religious faiths joined the politicians and members of the public in attendance in a moment of silence.

Mayor Valérie Plante, official opposition leader Lionel Perez and other elected officials observed a moment of silence Monday. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Elsewhere in Montreal, several vigils took place, many outside Metro stations.

In the Villeray neighbourhood, citizens gathered outside Jean-Talon Metro station.


Outside Quebec

Elsewhere in Canada, similar vigils are taking place.

At Ottawa City Hall, the pictures and names of the dead were displayed. A vigil with speeches also took place at Ottawa's Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street. 

The vigil was to be followed by a screening of Your Last Walk in the Mosque, a documentary about the attack and its aftermath.

Online, an artistic rendering of the victims spread across the country, along with the hashtag #RememberJan29 and the slogan "rest in power."

It was created by the Council of Canadians and two animators.

In Victoria, B.C., the provincial parliament building will be lit up in green to honour the shooting victims. 

This story is part of CBC's in-depth look at the aftermath of the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City one year ago. CBC will also have special coverage of the commemorative events on Monday, Jan. 29, including live radio, TV and online broadcasts.

With files from Julia Caron and Angelica Montgomery