Up to us all not to let hatred, fear spread

We were encouraged on Tuesday afternoon to see so many people gather in downtown Duncan for a brief vigil

We were encouraged on Tuesday afternoon to see so many people gather in downtown Duncan for a brief vigil to mark the killings of six people at a mosque in Quebec City this week.

The gathering, held on short notice and on a working day, still managed to attract a good crowd, all united in a voice against the racist violence displayed in the mosque attack.

For it is the ordinary people, standing up and saying no, this is not what we stand for, racism is not OK, it is not what we believe or nurture as part of our national values, that will help to prevent such attacks in the future.

It is all well and good to point out that the suspect in custody in the Quebec City attack was a fan of Donald Trump, whose 90-day Muslim ban (Trump now says that’s not really what it is, but the nations he chose for his visa ban leave little doubt) has brought right into the mainstream anti-Muslim sentiment that was formerly far more confined to furtive dark corners.

The suspect was also a fan of far-right French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen.

But surely these far away figures did not totally shape his views. We are normally far more influenced by the day-to-day people with which we surround ourselves.

That is why it is so vital, especially in these times when the ugliest sentiments of the alt right are being given their biggest soap box in decades, to hang on to our civility, our values of peace and multiculturalism.

No matter what other countries do, Canada must strive to remain a place of welcome and safety.

Bigotry and racism are not national policy or values to which we subscribe.

It is collectively the majority on the street who do not hate that must nurture those in our midst looking for meaning.

Diversity is strength. It makes us more adaptable, more accepting and better able to face the future. This is what we want our children to understand, not fear and hatred for those who look different, or who hold different beliefs.

A few loud politicians cannot be allowed to outshout the rest of us, no matter how big their stage. Because our stage is bigger. Our stage is our communities, our province, our country.

There are a lot more of us, and we can have a lot bigger impact than we often think, simply by living our beliefs every single day — whether that’s challenging an intolerant friend or gathering in City Square in solidarity.