By: Laura Steiner
As a Journalist, I see people at their best, worst, and every state in between. It can make you cynical, jaded and hopeless at the state of the world. Every so often, come these stories or events that manage to prove there is some reason to have optimism, and hope. It was a rough week last week. Daily I was either posting about how the Trump travel ban affected Canadians, or about the ongoing fallout over the Quebec City attack.
About halfway through the week I heard one of my Facebook friends was planning an inter-faith vigil to demonstrate solidarity, and show unity with the people of Quebec City. It was held inside the lobby of Milton’s Town Hall. I arrived before the crowds to get a good spot for photos. The lobby started filling up 15 minutes before the vigil started, and didn’t stop until after the vigil began. I stood near the front where the speeches were, and quickly found I couldn’t move without bumping into someone.
The ceremonies began with political speeches touching on the need for tolerance, openness, unity, and compassion. These were the same themes being touched on by all politicians throughout all of last week. I admit I rolled my eyes at many of the sentiments expressed, especially by the Prime Minister. But as I looked around at the crowds at Town Hall I thought “here’s Milton, walking the walk.” Everyone no matter the religion, skin colour, or age stood there and listened to the speeches, and prayers with respect.
The freedom to express religion is protected by the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. It’s one of many that form the basis of Canadian society. The shooting January 29 wasn’t only a mosque or Islam being attacked, it was Canada being attacked. It credits our national character that we have reacted to it as we have. It would be so easy to leave Quebec City, and the Muslim community to itself to deal with this. But we haven’t. Instead we form “rings of peace” around mosques. We contribute to funeral costs. We go to great lengths to assure our fellow Canadians that they’re not alone. The reaction has restored some of my hope in humanity, and optimism for the future.
I’m proud of you Milton. You showed up, and demonstrated in no small number that we are all one community. This town has grown in size. It’s good to see its heart has grown with it.