Statement on the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia

This Saturday, January 29, marks the fifth anniversary of what has become known as the “Quebec City mosque attack.” On January 29, 2017, six men were brutally murdered and 19 others seriously wounded during evening prayers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. This event initiated a year in which Canada would set two ignominious records that are, as of yet, unsurpassed: deadliest year of anti-Muslim violence in Canada and highest number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to Canadian police.

The National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia is a time for the U of T community to join Canadians in remembering the lives lost and irrevocably altered by an unspeakable act of terror and hatred. It is also an opportunity for all of us to strengthen our resolve to recognize, call out, and oppose the many manifestations of Islamophobia that persist today. We have only to look at last year’s attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, or the rise in physical assaults against Muslim women reported since the beginning of the pandemic to understand why remembering the lives tragically taken away on this day is not only relevant, but both necessary and urgent. Islamophobia—which can encompass racism, faith-based discrimination, misogyny, and other forms of hatred and discrimination—is an ever-present reality for Muslims in Canada and across our three campuses.

The University of Toronto will continue to raise awareness of Islamophobia on our campuses; support individual and collective learning about Islamophobia; and identify and implement strategies that address systemic and attitudinal barriers and foster a sense of community and belonging for Muslim students, staff, faculty, and librarians. In the coming months, the Institutional Equity Office and Anti-Islamophobia Working Group will be launching a consultative process to establish key strategic actions to further guide the University in creating equitable and inclusive environments for the Muslim community at U of T.

I invite all students, staff, faculty, and librarians to explore upcoming programming offered by the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO). In partnership with the Multi-Faith Centre, ARCDO will be hosting sessions on March 4 and 24 for the U of T community that examine Islamophobia within a Canadian context and within the post-secondary sector. You can find details below and on the ARCDO website. ARCDO will also continue to work with community partners to provide restorative programming, including recently offered sessions by Dr. Yusra Ahmad, that promotes the well-being of Muslim members of our community.

Islamophobia directly impacts members of Muslim communities at U of T, in Canada, and globally. It implicates everyone. On January 29, I invite you to renew your commitment to actively create and support an inclusive community at U of T. Recognizing our shared humanity leaves no room for hate.

Upcoming Programming

Islamophobia and the 9/11 Generation: Lessons for Higher Education

Speaker: Jasmin Zine, Professor, Sociology & Muslim Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
March 4, 2022, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Audience: Students, Faculty, Librarians, Staff, and External Community

This session will examine how Canadian Muslim youth navigate Islamophobia in a Post-9/11 world. Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, we will consider how the global war on terror and heightened anti-Muslim racism has affected a generation of Canadians who were socialized into a world where their faith and identity are under siege. How can we understand the ways that campus culture has been shaped in this age of empire? How can university communities be allies in combatting Islamophobia?

Beyond the Buzzwords: Understanding Islamophobia

Facilitated by: Gilary Massa, Founder and Lead Consultant of Inclusive Leaders
March 24, 2022, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Audience: Students, Faculty, Librarians, Staff

Through this workshop participants will gain the skills and knowledge to better support the needs of Muslim students and colleagues on campus. Learning Objectives include unpacking personal understandings of Muslim identity; learning about intersectionality and the Muslim identity; and developing skills for identifying and intervening on incidents of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism.