The Town of Markam became one of the first cities in Canada to proclaim January 29 as a “Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia”, Mayor Frank Scarpitti announced on Twitter and Facebook.
A Proclamation on the Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, shared by Scarpitti on January 25, reads as follows:
“WHEREAS on Sunday, January 29, 2017, a gunman carried out an act of terrorism at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec where men, women and children were gathered for night prayers in Quebec City;
WHEREAS this unspeakable act of hate left six dead and several others injured. In the aftermath of this attack, Markham residents and Canadians came together to remember and honour the victims;
WHEREAS City Council reaffirms that Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry, has no place in the City of Markham;
THEREFORE, I, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, on behalf of the Town of Markham Council, do hereby proclaim January 29, 2018 as a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia on the one-year anniversary of the tragic violence against members of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City.”
The drive to for a national Day of Action on Islamophobia began on January 5, 2017 when The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a Muslim advocacy organization, sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging Ottawa to designate January 29 as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.
The date was chosen to coincide with the first anniversary of the attack on a Quebec mosque during which suspected shooter Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student at Laval University, killed six men and wounded 19 others. Bissonnette faces six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm, but no charges of terrorism have been laid against him so far. A trial date was set for March 26, 2018.
The letter, signed by NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee and endorsed by a coalition of close to 70 national and Quebec-based Muslim organizations and two dozen community partners, called on Trudeau to stand firmly against Islamophobia and “agents of bigotry who aim to foment hateful division between Canadians and their fellow Muslim citizens” in light of the rise of “far-right extremist groups that continue to threaten the safety of Canadian Muslim institutions and congregations”.
The letter further called on the Federal government to designate January 29 – by order-in-council or proclamation – as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia, “to enable Canadians to collectively remember the victims of the attack and to enhance public education about the perils of hate, bigotry and Islamophobia”.
The December 5 letter echoed an open letter penned by Canadian Muslim organizations in 2017, which called on all levels of government to take immediate steps to support efforts to combat Islamophobia.
The letter recommended that all city councils boost resources for local police services to receive training on hate crimes and to provide education and outreach to diverse communities, including quarterly updates to local police services and an annual review of hate crimes.
It also called on every province in Canada to create an anti-racism directorate similar to the one in Ontario, and for every Ministry of Education to offer a mandatory course on “systemic racism” at the secondary school level, which will explore xenophobia, anti-Black racism and anti-Semitism.
Finally, at the Federal level, the letter asked all members of Parliament to support the so-called anti-Islamophobia Motion M-103 (known as the anti-Islamophobia motion) and to designate January 29 as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.