Speaking at an emotional march in London, Ont., marking the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack on a Muslim family, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told those gathered that Islamophobia is “an attack on all Canadians.”
The prime minster participated in a number of community on events Sunday, which began with a roundtable discussion with students at Oakridge Secondary School in the early afternoon.
Trudeau was later joined by London Mayor Ed Holder, Afzaal family members and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, and were in attendance for a rally that began later that day.
“Since the evening of June the sixth, I’ve truly struggled to find the right words — how to properly express on behalf of our city the magnitude of what happened to that beautiful family,” said Holder.
Holder then introduced Trudeau, who took the stage outside Oakridge Secondary School to a crowd of approximately 2,000 people to talk about the memories of the Afzaal family and the dangers of Islamophobia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the stage at Oakridge Secondary School to speak ahead of a march to the London Muslim Mosque on June 5, 2022 in honour of the Afzaal family. (Jim Knight/CTV News London)
Trudeau said that millions of Canadians face microaggressions and racism daily in Canada, adding that the siutation must change. He said his government has taken action to address racism in Canada, but there is still work that needs to be done.
“We need to be there to clearly say this is unacceptable, this is wrong,” he said. “We also need to act.”
During the speech, Trudeau said it sent a strong message to see so many people in attendance at the rally, and that Canada’s diversity and openness is what makes Canada great.
“We are all with you. We are all Muslims in Canada. We are all Afzaal family members in Canada,” Trudeau added.
Trudeau also spoke to the harm and divisiveness of disinformation, and said it’s up to everyone to speak up and call it out. He said that words matter because they lead to action, and action is what lead to thousands of people gathering in London Sunday for the Afzaal family.
“Words matter,” Trudeau said. “Words continue to matter.”
Maryam Al-Sabani, friend of Yumnah Afzaal spoke during the Our London Family rally at Oakridge Secondary School on June 5, 2022. (Nick Paparella/CTV News London)Yumnah Afzaal attended Oakridge Secondary School, and during the rally, her cousin Esa Islam talked about how the attack left him with a sense of responsibility.
“In the awake of the attack that took my cousin Yumnah and her family’s lives last year, I was left with a responsibility — a responsibility to ensure that no one would ever have to wake up in the morning to hear that members of their family were murdered the night before, solely because of their faith or how they looked.”
Yumnah’s friend Maryam Al-Sabani talked about how she lost her sense of belonging, community and sense of self.
And Al-Sabani had one final strong message for the prime minister.
“To our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I turned 16 this year…you have two years to earn my vote.”
Following the conclusion of the speeches, there was a community-led march through the streets of London, beginning at Oakridge Secondary School and culminating at the London Muslim Mosque.
An estimated 2,000 people are in attendance at a rally at Oakridge Secondary School meant to honour the Afzaal family on June 5, 2022. (Nick Paparella/CTV News London)According to the City of London, there will be traffic impacts on Sunday with Oxford Street between Hyde Park Road and Wonderland Road being closed during the march — the street has since reopened to the public.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, died after police say they were deliberately hit by a truck during an evening walk on June 6, 2021, in London.
The family’s nine-year-old boy was seriously injured, but survived.
A 21-year-old man faces four counts of first-degree murder in what police say was allegedly an attack motivated by hate. The case has not yet gone to trial.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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