By Scott Strasser, January 30 2017 —
Students, staff and faculty members gathered in the Vitruvian Space at the University of Calgary on Jan. 30 for a candle-lit vigil dedicated to the victims of a Quebec City shooting that took place the previous night.
The event was organized by the U of C’s Faith and Spirituality Centre. Around 30 people were in attendance.
The vigil was in response to a shooting on Jan. 29, when an armed gunmen killed six people and seriously injured five others at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec during a Sunday evening prayer.
The vigil at the Vitruvian Space began with a prayer recitation by U of C Sunni Muslim chaplain Fayaz Tilly. Before reciting the prayer, Tilly spoke about the importance of standing in solidarity with not just Muslim Canadians, but Canadians in general.
“The actions of a few don’t reflect the morals and values of an entire country,” Tilly said. “We have to remember to hate the deed, but not the doer, to hate the sin and not the sinner.”
Following Tilly’s prayer, attendees shared their own thoughts and lit candles around a table. Faith and Spirituality Centre program outreach coordinator Jessica Burke shared an English translation of a Hebrew prayer.
Following the vigil, Faith and Spirituality Centre manager Adriana Tulissi said the event offered an opportunity to show solidarity with those who experience oppression or discrimination.
“This [shooting] hit really close to home and this was a space for us to say, ‘we think of you, we’re holding our thoughts and prayers with you.’ We just wanted to have an opportunity to gather as a community,” Tulissi said “A lot of people are scared and we wanted to provide that space of support.”
Tulissi said the Faith and Spirituality Centre is planning weekly talking circles for students and staff to discuss how to translate their emotions and feelings towards action.
“We’re getting so many students who are telling us they feel disempowered — that they can’t do anything,” Tulissi said. “We want to gather together to figure out what we can do and what that looks like.”
The Vitruvian Space event was not the only vigil to happen in Calgary on Jan. 30. A larger vigil took place at City Hall later the same afternoon and another is planned for Feb. 3.