Organizations from Concordia, McGill, UdeM and UQÀM participated
Students from four Montreal universities gathered at McGill on Easter Sunday for a vigil in honour of terrorism victims. The event—organized by the African Students’ Association of Concordia (ASAC), the African Association at Université de Montréal, the McGill African Students Society (MASS), and the African Student Association at UQÀM—included speeches, music, and a moment of silence for victims of recent attacks internationally.
The event was initially planned as a vigil for recent atrocities in the Ivory Coast and Mali, but in light of recent events in Turkey and Belgium it was expanded to include terrorism internationally, said ASAC President Ghionawit Tamir. “We want people to take away that we all matter, that we are all also afraid. We should not use [terrorism] to make things more divisive,” said Tamir.
Tamir acknowledged that certain terrorist attacks—such as the one in Belgium—often receive more media coverage than others. However, she claimed that that was no reason to exclude them from the ceremony. “We wanted to show solidarity with other events,” said Tamir. “We wanted to show we’re praying.”
Some attendees came with the flags of their home countries or countries hit by terror attacks. One girl stood with a candle wrapped in the French flag; another in a coat with the Belgian flag patched on her shoulder.
At the event, Tamir spoke to the crowd, highlighting how she believes people must join together against terror. “We’re here to highlight our unity, and our diversity, in these times that we believe are trying to divide us,” said Tamir. “We think it’s very important for everyone to come together, to reflect about [the attacks], and to show that we are united.”
Pastor Ken Godon of the Peoples Church of Montreal and Imam Ali Sbeti of the Centre communautaire musulman de Montréal were also in attendance and spoke at the event.
“Love is the greatest force in all the world,” said Godon. “When [a terrorist attack] happens we may think the greatest power in the world is terror, or fear, or hate. And we’re here because we don’t believe that.”
Sbeti said he was pleased that so many came out to mourn the victims. “When you care, that means you are truly a human being,” said Sbeti. “Humanity is our family. This is what the Qur’an teaches us … to explore each other, to enjoy our differences, and not to let those few fanatic people—that we see in every religion and ideology—disrupt our love to live together.”
Songs sung at the event included “Wavin’ Flag” from K’naan, John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “One Love.” The vigil—which took place near McGill’s main entrance, the Roddick Gates—was twice disrupted by emergency personnel and fire trucks that needed to access a section of the campus.