Hundreds crowd U of T campus to honour those killed at Quebec City mosque
Several Toronto universities were to join together to show support for those killed and injured
Hundreds gathered at the University of Toronto's campus Monday night to honour the six people killed at a mosque in Quebec City, a tragedy that prompted Islamic religious and education institutions here to increase security.
"A lot of people have reached out to make sure we're okay and to offer support," said Dalia Hashim, president of the university's Muslim students' association. "That gives me hope that what we saw yesterday is not something that the rest of the community agrees with or condones."
Police have charged Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm. He appeared in a Quebec City court Monday evening and is the only person accused in connection with the shooting.
The five people injured in the shooting remained in hospital Monday night.
Messages of unity from all faiths
In Toronto, leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths came together Monday to offer prayers of love, peace and unity. Tiny flames set the faces of the crowd aglow as they murmured along with the dignitaries.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, professors, students and other officials attended. The crowd appeared to number in the hundreds, despite the fact that it felt like -12 C.
'The honour they deserve'
Rev. Dawn Leger noted that Monday night was about offering support to Muslim "friends and neighbours" as much as it was to grieve collectively.
"We have gathered ... to show the most vulnerable of the people of our city tonight — those who are grieving, our Muslim friends — that we are here, that we love you, [and] we will work to make sure that you have a safe place to worship," the First Evangelical Lutheran Church minister said. "Tonight we will give these men [who died] the honour they deserve by mourning their passing and holding their loved ones in our hearts."
The mayor, meanwhile, stood up to thank those who had gathered there to "convey that message that you are loved" to Muslims living in Toronto and Canada.
"They're an important part of what has built up this city," Tory told the crowd. "They are people of faith, people of family, people who are wonderful citizens and very much a part of the fabric of this great city."
Security boosted in Toronto
A separate vigil had also been planned at Ryerson University, but the two institutions decided to combine their memorials after hundreds accepted invitations on social media to attend each.
The ripple effect of the shooting could be seen across Toronto and the GTA on Monday as certain mosques announced that they planned to hire or increase security.
Police officers made several patrols to the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, which has 700 elementary and middle school students. The school had also hired private security, its principal said.