More than 1,000 people gathered around Parliament Hill's Centennial Flame on Monday in a sombre vigil dedicated to the victims, and survivors, of a deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque over the weekend.
Some used small candles to spell the words, 'love' and 'peace' around the glowing fire, while others used signage to send political messages: "I am Quebec," "Death to Fascism," and "Racism has no borders." They heard statements from Governor General David Johnston, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, and Imam Samy Metwally of the Ottawa Muslim Association, among others.
They sang the national anthem. Some prayed, some cried, and some knelt before the flames.
It was a stark contrast from the loud and passionate protest that brought thousands to the U.S. embassy only a few blocks away that afternoon, not only to condemn the deadly shooting in Quebec, but to demand an end to President Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim majority-countries.
Similar vigils were held all over the country on Monday, attracting many thousands in solidarity with Canada's Muslim community.
Charges laid against primary suspect
At around 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, a gunman entered the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, and fatally shot six worshippers and wounded 19 more. The suspect, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette, appeared in court on Monday and has been charged for six counts of first-degree murder, and five attempted murders using a restricted firearm. Bissonnette will appear in court again on Feb. 21.
“The charges that have been laid are those that were disclosed by the evidence so far," Crown attorney Michel Fortin told reporters outside the courthouse in Quebec City. "It’s an ongoing investigation, but as of now, the only charges that could be laid were those that were laid.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denounced the shooting as a terrorist attack, although neither he, nor police investigating the case have commented on a possible motive for the incident. Media outlets have reported that Bisonnette, a student at L'Université Laval, has "liked" U.S. President Donald Trump on Facebook, along with French politician Marine Le Pen, the separatist Parti Québécois, and the Israeli armed forces. Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front in France who has won accolades from white supremacists, is known for her anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant ideology.
Families notified, victims named
The horrific attack has prompted world leaders to extend their sympathies and launched Canada into a national day of mourning. Trudeau, members of his cabinet, and Canadian party leaders attended memorial ceremonies in Quebec City on Monday evening, and similar ceremonies were held in Toronto, Halifax, and other capital cities.
Canadians will not be broken by this violence. Our spirit & unity will only strengthen – we will mourn, and we will heal, together. pic.twitter.com/TVdFrbuHpq— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 30, 2017
The names of the victims have now been released: 57-year-old Azzeddine Soufiane, 60-year-old Khaled Belkacemi, 44-year-old Aboubaker Thabti, 42-year-old Mamadou Tanou Barry, 39-year-old Ibrahima Barry, and 41-year-old Abdelkrim Hassane. At least three of them were fathers to children as young as 15 months old.
Mamadou and Ibrahima Barry were brothers from Guinea, Soufiane was a grocer and butcher, Hassane worked as a programming analyst for the Quebec government, and Belkacemi was a professor of soil and agri-food engineering at L'Université Laval.
— with files from Canadian Press