Port Alberni holds vigil for mosque shooting

Gord Johns in the News

Source: Alberni Valley News

More than 100 people gathered outside of Port Alberni City Hall on Monday night for a vigil in solidarity with the Muslim community in response to the mosque shooting in Quebec City.

The vigil was arranged with only a few hours' notice, but still managed to gather a crowd.

"It's amazing what can happen in about five hours," organizer John Mayba said of the turnout.

Mayba said he arranged the vigil to send a message of love and openness.

"It's obvious from the news today that we've got a lot to grieve here," he said. "I think it's important for us to send a message to the rest of the country. But we're also doing this for ourselves."

Mayor Mike Ruttan was one of the first in attendance in front of city hall, and he also stepped forward to speak.

"We need to acknowledge as Canadians that we are fully in support," he said. "It is critical that we acknowledge that what happened, we abhor. That what happened is so wrong for Canada, so wrong for the world. This is not something we want to be a part of."

He emphasized promoting a message of togetherness.

"This is what happens when hate and mistrust and division bubbles to the surface," Ruttan said. "We can't allow that to happen."

Gord Johns, Courtenay-Alberni MP, attended a vigil in Ottawa, but he was able to speak over the phone to those gathered in front of Port Alberni's City Hall.

"It's a huge honour to be able to talk to [you] from Ottawa and be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with [you] in light of this huge tragedy," he said, speaking through Mayba.

"We stand united against the forces of hatred that are trying to divide us. We need to be involved in self-reflection and pray for peace, because people should never be afraid."

Local residents also stepped forward to share quotations and prayers. The vigil ended with a song.

The Guru Nanak Sikh Society will be holding a service for victims and the alleged killer on Sunday at 4144 Eighth Avenue.

The service begins at 10:30 a.m., and a lunch will be served at noon. All are invited to attend.