Afghanistan memorial vigil in Yellowknife – 2015, anti-racism vigil in Yellowknife – 2017, Sisters in Spirit vigil – 2018, Quebec City mosque shooting vigil – 2018, Christchurch vigil – 2019, vigil for Sri Lanka bombing victims – 2019.

The recent attack in Sri Lanka saw more than 250 people killed in an act of terror and violence by Islamic extremists.

But judging by the response to the attack in Yellowknife, it’s clear this community knows no borders or desires the sectarianism that plagues other corners of the world.

Pure love and compassion move the people of this city to gather in support of other communities across the globe who have been victimized by hate.

Nazim Awan, chair of the Islamic Centre here in Yellowknife, said it best at the vigil held last Sunday.

“All of us are affected, because faith is the smaller part of the bigger human family,” he said. “We have different faiths, different colours, different languages, but at the end of the day all religions teach the same thing: respect of other people.”

Yellowknife, a cosmopolitan place if there ever was one, is often quick to show solidarity in times of global crisis and so it should. Hate and ignorance have a broad spotlight in our everyday lives and unfortunately it’s becoming even more common to hear of shootings abroad, motivated by xenophobia, racist tirades or just plain hatred in general and it’s alarming.

Father Kirk Tastad, of the Holy Family Lutheran Church, said at the vigil, “We stand together to make it known that we desire to move together in a different way as one people, with shared humanity.”

It’s important Yellowknifers keep an open mind and recognize that people’s race, religion, or sexual orientation makes them no less a human and, when we die and become bones, we are all the same underneath the skin.

Ana Sutendra, who left Sri Lanka for Canada in 1989, said Yellowknife’s sense of community is what has kept her and her family in the city for many years.

That sense of community is encouraging to see at the vigil that took place on Sunday, and speaks to the most important lesson that can be learned in times of strife – communication is the first step in understanding differences between people and fostering empathy.

It is hopeful to know that Yellowknifers stand with others, across the globe, and refuse to accept hate and violence as the new norm in society.

As Tastad said at the vigil, “It’s important that we remind the world and each other that we see what’s gone on and we won’t forget.”

It is important that Yellowknifers hear from diverse communities so that this community can stand united against hate in any form. We’ve all walked down this path before and know where it leads and what it brings.

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