Toronto

Torontonians gather to remember victims of Quebec mosque massacre

One year after a lone gunman walked into a Quebec City mosque, Torontonians gathered to remember six men who were shot to death during a moment of worship.

6 men were killed, 5 others wounded in attack last year at Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec

Coun. Neethan Shan and the National Council of Canadian Muslims hosted the vigil. (CBC)

One year after a gunman opened fire on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, Torontonians gathered to remember six men who were shot to death, with a message of remembrance and unity against hate. 

"Indeed our eyes are shedding tears, our hearts are heavy with sorrow," Samiya Abdi, speaking at Nathan Phillips Square, said on the shooting's first anniversary.

Reading aloud the names of the men — Mamadou Tanou Barry, Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, Aboubaker Thabti and Khaled Belkacem — Abdi said a prayer that none would ever be forgotten. 

"We are grieved by your departure, we pray that you are granted peace... May your names always be honoured and remembered."
Reading aloud the names of the victims one by one, Samiya Abdi made a prayer that none would ever be forgotten. (CBC)

Gilary Massa said the vigil was an opportunity not only to mark the tragedy, but also to join together against anti-Muslim sentiment. 

"Today is also about inviting all Canadians to take a moment to pause, reflect and reiterate our unity against the hate-fuelled and bigoted actions that would seek to divide us," Massa said.

The commemoration, hosted by Coun. Neethan Shan and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), was attended by Toronto Mayor John Tory. 

It was one of many held across the country marking the anniversary. Tory said he attended on behalf of all Torontonians to offer comfort and solidarity with the Muslim community in Quebec City and across Canada.

"Quite properly we don't spend much time focusing on the religious faith of the people who live beside us or work beside us or ride with us on the TTC," Tory said.

"But a great many of them in this city and around the country happen to be Muslim and their lives and their priorities share many common features with those of us who are not Muslim."

Coun. Shan also spoke at the event, expressing that the attack needs to be remembered and its underlying factors.

"We go to [a] place of worship to be protected. We go there to be at peace, and this unprecedented attack in the recent Canadian history needs to be remembered," he said.

Tonight's vigil near the site of the attack in Quebec City, the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, drew thousands, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.

'Life is so short'

Louiza Mahammed-Said, a mother of three who lost her husband, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, in the attack, spoke at the Quebec City vigil.

"I'm using this opportunity to tell you to take advantage of each moment of your life, to savour each moment with your family, to tell them you love them," she said. "Life is so short and unpredictable. Every January 29th, I hope that we'll remember the victims." 

The gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, will go on trial in March on six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm.

With files from Sabrina Marandola