After last night’s vigil in Kingston, we were moved to ask friends of PeaceQuest to share their thoughts, reflections, and observations. Most quotes are attributed by first name only, except in cases where they requested otherwise.
Monday night’s vigil saw some five hundred Kingston people come to City Hall, stamping their feet in the cold, their breath steaming up into the night. Candles and placards everywhere as we stood in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Islamic community. One speaker quoted Dr. King’s 1963 wisdom
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;?only light can do that.? Hate cannot drive out hate;?only love can do that. ?Hate multiplies hate,? violence multiplies violence, ?and toughness multiplies toughness?in a descending spiral of destruction….?The chain reaction of evil” –?hate begetting hate,?wars producing more wars –?must be broken,?or we shall be plunged?into the dark abyss of annihilation.
– Jamie Swift
Grieving is sometimes a strange thing. I didn’t know any of the victims. I’m not Muslim. And yet as I stood there with my breath leaving my body in a fog and tears freezing on my eyelashes, I felt a weight leaving my body. Surrounded by so many people committed to community, diversity and unquestioning love, I felt a resounding resilience. It’s moments like last night that make it possible to continue to fight for justice. I urge everyone to take action today, and tomorrow, and every day. Acknowledge the tears on your cheeks and the neighbours at your side. We’re in this together.
– Jonathon Reed
Have you ever heard the sound of 1,000 pairs of mittened hands clapping? This evening while attending the Kingston vigil for the victims of the Quebec shooting, I heard that marvellous sound, as participants showed their appreciation for speeches that decried strategies of divide and rule and called for an inclusive society. More than 1,000 folks standing outside in -11 weather for more than an hour was a truly amazing sight to behold.
The recessed area behind Market Square was packed with people, some carrying lit candles. I was in an overflow crowd above, encircling the area. I felt the weight and gravity of the time, the cold and dark of the moments, and hoped privately that the fascist-like diktats coming from President Trump of America, our next-door neighbour, had not so swiftly infected our country – although there were signs beforehand here, of course.When I heard the news of the murders in Quebec, I sent an email of grief to the mosque there and a donation to help with flowers or whatever could help. I also emailed our mosque here, telling them what I’d done. I’ve made friends there through common actions on Gaza, and there are members of the Kingston mosque to whom I’d taught English.I know that for me to feel like a sister in a bond that has meaning, I need to make a personal connection; I need to befriend when the nightmare happens. With email, that’s more than possible. Someone at the other end has read my sorrow, knows I feel with them. When I collect together with other people, those we collect together for feel the comfort. And the security, even in the middle of a great breaking.I don’t know what love is, but I know it can be felt. And in order for it to be felt, I need to move my body, speech and mind toward it.-Marie
It felt comforting to be among so many people to share the feeling of horror and sadness at the violence that occurred in Quebec City. Those who spoke called us to speak out against hatred and discrimination whenever it occurs and to make our solidarity as a community of love and understanding continue beyond that night.
Came back from the vigil and saw this table full of flowers and condolence letters at the Kingston Mosque. Thank you Kingstonians, we are forever grateful to have neighbors like you.
Not sure what to do next? For more guidance on how to support the Muslim community we encourage you to refer to “How to be an Ally for Muslim Individuals and Communities” at Toronto for Everyone, an organization committed to creating “a place where we all belong, where we can see ourselves–our cultures, our ideals, our history–in the very fabric of our city.”