CANADA: Rally to end Islamophobia



20 March 2017

CANADA: Rally to end Islamophobia 

by Rachelle Friesen

I am deeply humbled to stand beside all of you today, as we continue to confront Islamophobia, fascism and white supremacy - in all its manifestations.  Yet, I also recognize who I am, and the land on which we stand.

I am white. I am a settler. And I was born in a country that exists because of the genocide of Indigenous people and the dispossession of Indigenous land. I recognize that, today, we gather on that stolen land. Land that has never been willingly given up nor ever been relinquished, despite what white historians may tell us.

And as we gather here today, it is important to remember this land’s history, and the country that was built on it, it is important to remember its history especially when there are so many who work to rewrite it. It is important to remember this country’s history so we can one day stop repeating it.

This country was never built on values of freedom for all. Rather, it was built on the genocide of Indigenous inhabitants and the oppression of racialized people. It was built on sexual violence against women and built on the exploitation of the worker. This is this country’s history but it is also acutely felt and experienced in its present.

Rally to end Islamophobia 

Photo Credit: Murray Lumley.

The last few years in Canada, attacks on Muslims have tripled. We remember and mourn the six men killed in the Sept Illes Mosque Massacre; six men, who were killed while they knelt to pray- murdered because of who they were. We stand in solidarity with the Reign of Islamic Da’wah Center which was attacked by arson three days ago. Depressingly we are seeing a growing number of hate crimes in Toronto and across Canada. Hate crimes against Jewish people, Muslims and all People of Colour. White supremacy is sadly and undeniably on the rise.

Yet, despite this sadness, and knowing both a history and present of violence in this country, today I also feel hopeful. Hopeful that this reality of hatred and domination can change. Hopeful, because 3 weeks ago tens of thousands of people across Canada gathered together to say that these values have no place in our communities.  Hopeful because thousands of people have gathered over the previous weeks to say ‘no’, no to Islamophobia.  And I am hopeful because today we have gathered together to confront islamophobia, in its physical manifestation. 

The ultra-right has always used fear. Fear to try to oppress us, intimidate us and divide us. It is with this fear that they mobilize and through this fear they organize. Yet today we are here to say that we know the history of this country’s violence and the current realities of its oppresion. We are here to say that we are going to out-mobilize and out-organize so that this will not be our future.

Rally to end Islamophobia 2 

Photo Credit: Murray Lumley.

Today we gather in the spirit of resistance. We resist the acts and policies of violence and hatred. Resistance means building coalitions and radical relationships of solidarity across religion, race, class, and gender. Resistance to this system means that some people, such as myself, give up our privileges. Resistance means that we gather on each other’s picket lines and eliminate police harassment and police violence in racialized communities.  It means that we promise each other, that if someone threatens our communities or surrounds a Mosque, we will be there first to say that islamophobia and white supremacy are not welcome and will not be tolerated. Today we commit ourselves to organize, to mobilize, to reach out and to educate . To build a future towards liberation. To build a future that is just. And to build a future of real freedom and where all people can live in peace.