By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
On the third anniversary of a fatal shooting at an Islamic prayer centre in Quebec City that left six worshippers dead and many others wounded, grieving and traumatized, a “Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance” was declared in the province of Saskatchewan.
“This proclamation recognizes that there’s no place for racism in Saskatchewan,” stated a government media release about the Jan. 29, 2020 event.
“Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our country,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan. “We must all stand together against all forms of hatred and intolerance, and work together to promote inclusion and acceptance.”
At the request of two branches of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan, an idea for observing Jan. 29 as a day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia was expanded in the province of Saskatchewan to include all those who are marginalized or affected by religious intolerance and hate-filled violence – which in recent years has included increasing numbers of anti-Semitic attacks, targeting of Muslims, and violence against Christians around the world, as well as persecution of many for their faith, race, or ethnicity.
“Jan. 29 will forever be marked by the odious shooting at a Quebec City Mosque,” the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan said in the government media release. “By proclaiming this day as a provincial ‘Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance,’ the government of Saskatchewan has taken a principled stand in solidarity with those who suffer and against those who would seek to divide our nation with hate and intolerance, and has reaffirmed our province’s motto: ‘Multis e gentibus vires, from many peoples, strength’.”
The members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Saskatoon also expressed gratitude to the Saskatchewan government for recognizing that hate has no place in society. “Islam is a religion of peace, love, and harmony. This is why the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at believes and practices the motto ‘Love for all, hatred for none’,” said Mubarik Syed.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was among the faith leaders in the province who issued a statement to mark the Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance.
“I have yet to see the creed of any main-line faith or religion in our world today advocate violence, hatred, intolerance, and persecution. Quite the contrary – people who are committed to God’s plan of blessing and renewal are called to seek the way of healing and forgiveness, respect and reverence of everyone and everything in creation, and to propose a holy and righteous response to intolerance,” said the Catholic bishop of Saskatoon.
“People who believe in one Creator God of the universe, and indeed all people of good will, acknowledge that we are led forward to realize an ongoing and renewing vision of peace, solidarity, and mutual respect as we hear the Spirit lead us into greater respect, dialogue, and common action,” Hagemoen said. “Our spiritual commitment and energy must compel us all to build trust, respect, and relationship in a world that can fall too easy to fearful and hateful responses of disrespect and violence. Let us choose wisely not only the higher path, but the lasting one.”
Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky of Congregation Agudas Israel reflected on the support and solidarity that people of all faiths have shown in Saskatoon. “I am proud to support the Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance on behalf of the Saskatoon Jewish community,” Jodorkovsky said, quoted in the government media release. “The religious institutions in Saskatoon are like a family, we are all connected. Our community will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with all faiths and cultures to challenge intolerance.”
Examples of local faith communities standing together in the past have included a vigil of support at Saskatoon City Hall on Jan. 31, 2017, just days after the shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. The following year, representatives of many faiths in Saskatoon also joined the Jewish community for a vigil hosted by Agudas Congregation Israel Oct. 30, 2018 to mourn the 11 victims who died in a shooting on Saturday at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.