Remarks on the recent attack in London, Ontario and the tragic legacy of residential schools
What happened on Sunday in London – this act of terrorism and of Islamophobia – is sickening.
It is heartbreaking.
It’s hard to find words that are enough.
What can be said when yet another family has had their loved ones ripped away?
When a child is in hospital?
When a community is in mourning?
So all I can say is this:
To everyone who is grieving, who is angry, who is afraid – your neighbours stand with you.
Your community stands with you.
We will not let hate divide us.
This evening, I’ll be in London, Ontario to join with the community for a vigil.
Across the country, Canadians are holding each other in grief and in mourning.
When people leave flowers, when they light candles, when they check-in on neighbours and friends, they remind us that the hatred of one person cannot and will not stand between us.
Last night, I spoke with the Mayor of London, Ed Holder, and Nawaz Tahir, a representative of the London Muslim community.
I shared my condolences and we talked about what more we must do to keep our communities safe.
Islamophobia is real.
Hatred has consequences.
And it must stop.
Whether through the Security Infrastructure Program, by cracking down on online extremism, or by dismantling far-right hate groups, we will continue doing everything we can to fight violence in every form.
The consequences of doing anything less are simply too great.
We will continue fighting to end Islamophobia.
And we will continue doing everything it takes to ensure that everyone can walk safely down the street.
Hate has no place in our country. Not in London, not anywhere.
The Afzaal family in London was targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Worshippers in Ste. Foy were killed at prayer.
Mohammed Aslam Zafis was murdered at a mosque in Toronto.
Black Muslim women in Edmonton have been violently attacked.
And people across the country have faced insults, threats, and violence.
The list must not grow any longer.
Islamophobia, and the horrific violence it brings, must end.
Today, non-Muslim Canadians are discovering, often for the very first time, the insecurity and fear felt by many Muslim Canadians when they go out in public.
And Canadians are wondering what they can do to help.
How they can prevent our country from going further down this dark path.
Well, the next time you see a woman in a hijab or a family out for a stroll, give them a smile.
Show them that they are respected; show them that they are loved.
And that they have friends and allies across this country who will stand with them and fight for them.
Together, we can counter this darkness and this intolerance.
Together, we will.
This has been a painful few weeks for so many people, and for so many reasons. As I said last week, I am thinking of everyone who is grieving after the tragic discovery in Kamloops.
And so, today, I also want to speak about our shared journey of reconciliation.
Throughout the weekend, vigils and memorials were organized from coast to coast to coast to honour all those who were the victims of the terrible residential school system.
Our government is continuing to accelerate our work on truth and reconciliation. For example, we want to help families and communities find and honour children who disappeared at these institutions.
I know that many people will have seen the Pope’s comments from a few days ago about the residential school system in Canada.
And we have all heard that what communities and families want – and need – is an apology.
Yesterday, I spoke with Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, who is also the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as Bishop Joseph Nguyen from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamloops.
We discussed the importance of the Church working with Indigenous communities to address the harm and intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools in Canada.
Thousands of Catholics are speaking up to say that the Church must apologize.
Canadians hear you.
The Church, the federal government, and all institutions must do the right thing and work together with Indigenous communities for truth and reconciliation, to ensure that families can mourn and heal.
For our part, our government will continue to acknowledge the truth. We will always be here for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
As we work to right the wrongs of these residential schools, we will continue to accelerate all of our efforts on reconciliation and on closing the gaps that still exist.
Today, there are tens of thousands of Indigenous kids who now have good classrooms to learn in.
But there’s more still to do for other kids who don’t have the same opportunities.
In the last 5 years, we have supported hundreds of thousands of requests under Jordan’s Principle.
But there remains work ahead to ensure that every child has the care they need.
Since 2015, we have lifted over 100 long-term drinking water advisories.
But there are still more advisories to lift and infrastructure to build.
In other words, there’s still a long way to go on the path of reconciliation.
And, in partnership, we will never stand down from that work.