Indigenous community reaches out to their Muslim neighbours in Montreal

Tom Fennario
APTN National News
Members of different cultures and religious beliefs gathered in Montreal to honour the lives taken in a shooting rampage at a mosque there just over a week ago. The prayer meeting, hosted by members of the local Indigenous community, opened with a prayer spoken in the Mohawk language.

“Going down into that crowd with the smudging and seeing the diversity of all the cultures, all participating, even the children, you know, I was very, very happy to see that,” said Ojibway/Montreal community member Alan Harrington.

When he was asked to participate in the vigil Harrington leapt at the chance to reach out in comfort to the Muslim community.

“It was very important for us to be here today, all of us, to come together because it was such a tragedy of what happened in Quebec City,” he said.

The killings have shaken Quebec to the core. In response, residents of all ethnicities and faith are finding ways to combat hate. The efforts of the Indigenous community means a lot said the president of the Verdun Islamic Community Centre Ahmed Chihane.

“It was very emotional and I felt like the peace on their words, what they were saying, I don’t understand the language, but there was a feeling of peace inside us,” he said of the vigil.

Despite the horror of the incident, Chihane still thinks highly of Quebec. The fact that his neighbors are reaching out is sparking a new sense of optimism.

“When we know each other, when we meet each other, we know each other. And the fear disappears and we live in peace. That is all we want,” he said.

Harrington hopes the newly formed friendships will span beyond the confines of a single vigil. He also doesn’t want their next meeting to come about because of tragedy.

“I did invite them to come to the round dance which is going to be February the 25th, and then also for the Montreal pow-wow and they’re so excited,” said Harrington.

Quebec’s recovery from the vicious hate crime is only just beginning. Those in attendance are believe cross cultural community building is one way to begin the healing.

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Producer Nouvelles Nationales d'APTN / Montreal

Born and raised in Montreal, Tom cut his teeth working in community television in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory before joining APTN as a cameraman/editor in 2008. In 2015 he was promoted to Video Journalist. Since 2019 Tom has been a producer for the French weekly newscast Nouvelles Nationales d’APTN.