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Reflecting on the tragedy in Quebec City

Candlelight vigil to be held in Red Deer on Wednesday

The tragic shooting at a Quebec City mosque over the weekend has sent shock waves across the country.

At 7:50 p.m. on Sunday, gunfire was reported at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec. Six men were killed and five were critically injured as a result.

One suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, was arrested on site. He faces 11 charges – six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder using a restricted firearm. No terrorism charges have been laid and a motive is not yet known.

Bissonnette, 27, is a student and has been described as an introvert and a far right fanatic. He did not have a previous criminal record.

An act like this is so rare in Canada. We are, sadly, no strangers to hearing of similar incidents like this happening across the globe, but when it happens in our own country, it is almost unimaginable – especially in a place of worship.

We as Canadians are used to going about our days without much concern for safety and terrorism. But in a day and age where that is changing globally, Canadians must pay closer attention, because as we’ve seen, we are not immune.

The troubling truth is that really there is no place that is safe. The fact that this heinous act happened in a place of worship where people gather, hold services and have fellowship is particularly disturbing.

Not to say that we should always be on guard to the point of paranoia, but we do need to be aware of the changing world that we live in today.

After the tragedy, political leaders offered their condolences.

“Tonight, I am heartbroken to hear of a deadly shooting at a mosque in Sainte Foy, Quebec, during evening prayer,” said Premier Rachel Notley. “On behalf of Albertans, my heart goes out to the victims of this attack and their loved ones. We stand in solidarity with all Muslim Canadians and all of those grieving in Quebec.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann issued the following statement in reaction to the shooting.

“Words too often fail us during tragedies like these. My heart goes out to the victims of this despicable and unthinkable act, and the loved ones they leave behind,” he said. “It is heartbreaking to see such malice directed at innocent people in their time of prayer. I join with those across the country in standing in solidarity with our Muslim neighbours and friends, and condemn the hatred and bigotry which birthed this heinous attack.”

Here in Red Deer, locals can honour those affected by the tragedy. A candlelight vigil will take place Wednesday night at City Hall from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. to honour the victims of the massacre. We can all stand strong together for those affected.