A map of where the Quebec City shooting happened. Sunday, January 29th at 7:50 p.m.
After hearing about the mosque shooting, a Western University Ph.D. student decided to turn her heartbreak into a positive initiative. In just two days, 24-year-old Ala-Terry Ghamroui gathered more than 150 letters from around the London area to be sent to the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City.
A day after the shooting, Ghamroui asked her students if they wanted to join her card initiative. She initially had doubts if her idea would pick up but her students responded with excitement and encouragement, said Ghamroui.
Ghamroui made her initiative very quick and easy to join. People can simply email her their messages of support and she either prints them or hand-writes them on different cards to be sent to Quebec City.
She spoke about how the idea of the cards came to fruition. "When you when you get a letter in the mail, there's a level of excitement. You can't wait to open it. It's handwritten, intimate and personal. Now multiply that feeling into 150!"
"I want them to know that they're not alone and that we're behind them all the way in London Ontario," Ghamroui explained.
"They weren't angry, they weren't vengeful, they were calm and that's how Muslim-Canadians need to be seen." - Ala-Terry Ghamroui
The card initiative was not just about sending hope and support to the victims' families but for showing gratitude and appreciation to the greater community. Ghamroui said she wants to thank the Muslim community for remaining calm and patient during such adverse times, because it's changing the rhetoric around Muslims.
"They weren't angry, they weren't vengeful, they were calm and that's how Muslim-Canadians need to be seen," she added.
Rev. Michael Bechard, from King's University College's campus ministry also joined in and contributed to her cause saying that acts like these can try "bring healing to those affected by this tragedy."
However, not everyone Ghamroui contacted was on board with the idea. Amit Chakma, President of Western University, did not respond to spread the word about her initiative. In an email, his secretary Malcom Ruddock said that the university had already taken their measures for responding to the attacks and wished her all the best.
Universities across Canada—including U of T, Ryerson and York University--organized vigils to honour the victims of the shooting. However, Western University did not participate.
The mosque was attacked by 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette where he opened fire on a group of worshippers and killed six men. In a news conference following the attack, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident "an act of terror."
If anyone is interested in joining Ghamroui's initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mina is a multimedia journalist currently based in London, U.K.
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