QUEBEC –Worshippers at the mosque where six men were gunned down last weekend led hundreds of Quebec City residents on a march to promote unity and tolerance on Sunday.
After a 6 km walk under snowy skies, mosque president Mohamed Yangui read a message he said was written by the family of the victims of the tragedy.
“My brothers and sisters, you are our family,” it began.
“Thank you to our community who came from Montreal, from Sherbooke, from Ottawa in Ontario and elsewhere.”
The message went on to thank Quebec City officials and first responders as well as Quebecers and Canadians for their sympathy and support in the week since the massacre.
“Thank you everyone, for your sympathy and your love,” Yangui read.
The march began at Laval University, where one of the victims taught, and made its way to Quebec’s legislature.
The crowd grew as the march progressed, as people from the sidewalks linked arms with the marchers and joined in chanting slogans such as “All Canadians! All Quebecers!” and “No to violence, no to hate.”
Organizer Reda Kada said the march was a way for members of the Muslim community to reach out and respond to the messages of solidarity they’ve received over the past week.
“We want to prove to everybody that we want to stay here and work with the people of Quebec for peace and unity,” he said.
The six victims, aged between 39 and 60, were killed when a gunman stormed the mosque and opened fire on men who were attending prayer. Several others were wounded.
At the end of Sunday’s march, a moment of silence was held in honour of those who were killed and injured.
A second moment of silence was dedicated to the family of the man charged in connection with the killings. An organizer described the family members of Andre Bissonnette as fellow victims of the tragedy.
Bissonnette, 27, faces six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder using a restricted firearm.
He is due to appear in court on the allegations later this month.