Mr. Speaker, on this day one year ago, the great mosque of Quebec City was the target of an act of terror. On this day one year ago, children, spouses, friends and neighbours lost people they loved. On this day one year ago, Canada mourned its own: Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Aboubaker Thabti, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry.
Today, we know that these six people were gunned down by ignorance and hatred, fuelled by Islamophobia and racism, which will never have a place in our society. This act of violence was both inexcusable and unacceptable.
Over the days and weeks that followed the tragedy, Canadians came together, finding strength in their differences and taking pride in the diversity that has enriched their country. Together, we chose love over hate, compassion over violence, solidarity over division. Together, we showed that we are capable of living up to the values at the core of the Canadian identity. We showed that we shine brightest in darkness.
On this day one year ago, we honoured the memory of those who left us too soon. We stood in solidarity with the Muslim community, which is too often targeted by hate.
As we mark this sombre anniversary and remember the extraordinary courage of ordinary people, I believe we must ask ourselves if we have done right by the men who lost their lives on this day one year ago. When the dust began to settle and it began to be business as usual once again, did we stand with neighbours and strangers who were targeted by hate? I ask not only the members of this House but all Canadians. Have we regularly condemned everyday acts of racism like we so forcefully did just one year ago? Have we defended the freedom of others, whether it be to pray, to love, or to simply be, as we would our own?
These attacks sought to divide this country and its citizens, drive wedges between neighbours, and make enemies of strangers. Sadly, the same can be said of hate crimes and other isolated incidents of discrimination that far too often go unnoticed or unreported. Things like graffiti and slurs have become commonplace, normalized, and even tolerated. The loss of life should not and cannot be a necessary condition for acts of hatred to merit our attention. Tragedy should not and cannot become a prerequisite for us to have important conversations in our homes and in our schools.
It should never have come to this point for attitudes to be changed and for changes to be made. We cannot bring back those who perished, but we owe it to them to fight the very sentiments that led to their loss. We owe it to them to speak up and to stand tall and explicitly against Islamophobia and discrimination in all its forms.
Every day, we can and must honour those who left us too soon and honour their values. In the face of ignorance, let us choose compassion. In the face of hate, let us choose love. Together, let us take a stand against Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination. We must not let fear into our hearts. We must not let racism take root in our society. Together, we must continue to find strength in our diversity and take pride in our differences. Every day, let us pay tribute to Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Aboubaker Thabti, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry. Let us show that Canadians will not be intimidated by violence or hatred, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.