Despite the stormy wintery conditions, a gathering of some 70 souls from many different Faith traditions gathered at St. John’s Anglican Church on the evening of February 05. An act of inhumanity had brought us together, the brutal massacre of six Muslim men at the Islamic Centre in Quebec City. This somber yet moving vigil was initiated by Squamish United Church in collaboration with the Squamish Multifaith Association, the word spread through a flurry of e-mails and from the pulpits earlier in the day. People stretched themselves beyond their usual comfort zone to attend. Many of them entering this Christian sanctuary for the first time and in the quiet peace of this place of worship, the inescapable bonds of our common humanity were deeply felt.
The vigil was opened by the Rev. Karen Millard by reading a letter from the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Jordan Cantrwell.
“In love we reach out to you, our sisters and brothers, our fellow Canadians, to offer support and comfort. We open our hearts to you as we extend the hand of solidarity. We commit to redoubling our efforts to seek peace and justice for all peoples within and beyond Canada. We will work side by side with our neighbours of every faith and of no faith to heal the brokenness that fractures our communities and forge bonds of friendship and cooperation.”
Candles were lit for each of the fallen:
Azzedine Soufiane, age 57
Khaled Belkacemi, age 60
Aboubaker Thabti, age 44
Abdelkrim Hassane, age 41
Mamadou Tanou Barry, age 42
Ibrahima Barry, age 39
This was followed by a prayer chanted in Arabic.
Representatives from Muslim, Sikh, Catholic and Baha’i Faith, each in turn offered prayers and voiced their commitment to fellowship and solidarity. A prayer for peace was chanted in Hebrew as all present raised their lighted candles aloft.
The sisters at Queen of Peace Monastery, located deep in the snow- gripped Squamish Valley, were unable to come but held their own vigil in concert with us.
“We wish also to express our deep sadness and distress at the loss of life resulting from the terrorist attack at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. We are grieving with you. As sisters and brothers in humanity here on earth we implore God for the gift of mutual respect and peace. We are snowed in but we shall be praying with you this evening in our monastery.”
Squamish Multifath will be participating this year in a “Get to know your brothers and sisters in Faith” series of events. Please sign up to receive this blog to receive notices of upcoming events.