Signs with messages of hope and peace were held high during a vigil at the Charlottetown cenotaph Saturday.
About 300 people attended the vigil, which honoured victims of the shooting massacre that killed 50 at two New Zealand mosques earlier this month.
Mujtaba Moulvi, one of several P.E.I. Muslim Society members who spoke at the event, said he was honored by how many people showed up in support of the Muslim community.
“We share a common life that’s precious,” said Moulvi, who also gives sermons at Charlottetown’s Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque. “We have a saying in our tradition that if one innocent person is killed it’s so grievous it’s as if the entire humanity’s been killed.”
The vigil saw a section of Grafton and Great George Streets blocked off while speeches of strength were given to the crowd.
“We are broken-hearted but we are not broken,” said Moulvi. “We are alive, we are together… We are determined to love one another and support each other.”
Speaker Sobia Ali-Faisal said she was heartbroken when she heard of the shooting and noted that Canada has also seen Islamophobic violence, notably the 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City.
“Muslims living in Canada know this kind of violence already… the hateful violence, Islamophobic white supremacy is very much present here in peaceful Canada, and that’s why we also cry,” she said. “So we must resist white supremacy and challenge it in all of its forms.”
Mohamed Asif, a member of the P.E.I. Muslim Society, was one of many who carried a sign at the vigil.
He said it’s important to show support for the New Zealand families from so far away because it’s a reminder that violence is not tolerated on P.E.I.
“P.E.I. is the best place, the people are the best here, they’re calm, they are friendly,” said Asif, while also noting that even a peaceful place such as the province has also seen Islamophobia. “A few years back at Masjid Dar As-Salam, somebody threw a bottle of gasoline. So there are some people here who have the mentality.”
Paxton Caseley of Tignish said she has friends who are Muslim and she wanted to show her support to the community by attending the vigil.
“(They were) pretty senseless killings that happened and there’s no need for it,” she said. “Even though it happened far away, those are still friends and family that we have here.”