Questioning who we are as Canadians

In light of the tragedy that hit our nation’s capital in the last week, many people have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the gunman and how they have been personally affected by the Oct. 22 shooting. While most of the comments demonstrated solidarity, resilience and support amongst Canadians — all races and religions included — others reduced their behaviour to blatant hate speech and discrimination towards the Muslim population.

Vandalized Cold Lake Mosque in Alberta

Vandalized Cold Lake Mosque in Alberta

Photos of a vandalized mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta surfaced online early Saturday morning, with “Go Home” and “Canada” spray-painted around the entrance. Personally, when I came across this photo, I thought, “Great. This article is going to be a series of photos from across the nation where people demonstrate their ignorance by blaming a whole nation of Islamic people who were not connected to the gunman whatsoever.”

In hindsight, I should have had more faith in my fellow citizens, because the townspeople of Cold Lake and our Canadian Forces rallied together to clean the mosque and post encouraging, friendly messages along the windows including “Love your neighbour”, “You are home” and “Let there be no room in our hearts for hate”. According to one online source, the RCMP is investigating this situation. While I hope that the guilty parties are brought to justice, the love and support that this community has demonstrated is enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes.

Growing up, I was surrounded by a vast amount of different cultures and religions, having attended an array of different holy ceremonies to satisfy my curiosity of how other people fulfilled their faith. In this sense, I am acutely aware of these occurences of racial blame and discrimination; it’s incredibly comforting to see that people across the nation share this sensitivity.

Some comments on the Internet blamed the Canadian government for this attack on the nation’s capital. Some were angry about our reputation as a peace-keeping country, arguing that our innocence and laid-back attitude is the cause of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s death. Others argued that we should close our borders because all immigrants seem to do is cause mischief.

If Canada changed its mission and ideology of peace-keeping, how would we be any different from our Southern neighbours (who maintain a bad international reputation for being a highly aggressive and weaponized country)? If we close our borders, how then are we a nation of diversity, contributing to the “cultural mosaic”? If our sense of Canadian identity has been compromised, then who are we?

Despite the Internet trolls, our Canadian identity has remained the same: loving, supportive, intolerant of hatred and dedicated to peace – as Cold Lake citizens have demonstrated. Pointing the finger at one race or religion has never been the Canadian style, and allowing this attack to instill fear into the nation is certainly not on our agenda either. Instead, we will remain the same Canadians we were before the Ottawa shooting, continuing to stand on guard for thee.

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