The Guelph Muslim Society is planning a symbolic walk on Thursday night in honour of four members of a London family who were killed while out on a walk of their own on Sunday evening. The attack in London has been universally recognized as a hate-driven and Islamophobic in nature, so Guelph’s Muslims will be leading a vigil and walk later this week to focus local grief and sadness.
The vigil will begin at 7:30 pm at the Guelph Muslim Society’s community centre at 286 Water Street. After some remarks from community leaders, everyone will depart for a symbolic walk at around 8 pm. Face masks are mandatory, and people are asked to physically distance where possible. Also, in lieu of candles and flowers, GMS is asking people to bring a small plant that can be contributed to their community garden.
“We are devastated by what has transpired in London and thank the Guelph community for the messages, emails, tweets of support that have been pouring in since this afternoon but there is much more work to be done!” the Society said in a statement posted to social media Monday night.
According to the London Police Service, a black pick-up truck struck five members of the same family around 8:40 pm as they were walking along the west side of Hyde Park Road at South Carriage Road, mounting the curb to do so before fleeing the scene down Oxford Street. Seven minutes later, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman was arrested and then subsequently charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempt murder.
Dead are a 74-year-old female, a 46-year-old male, a 44-year-old female, and a 15-year-old female. One 9-year-old boy survived the attack, and is in the hospital with serious but not-life-threatening injuries.
“Investigators believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith. There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” London Police said in a statement. “There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims.”
“A man allegedly got in his car, saw a Muslim family walking down the street, and made the decision that they do not deserve to live. He did not know them,” said Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of National Council of Canadian Muslims in a statement. “This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such. We call on the government to prosecute the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including considering terrorist charges.”
The City of Guelph will keep its flags flying at half-staff after being lowered last week to mark the discovery of remains belonging to 215 Indigenous young people on the property of Kamloops Residential School. Mayor Cam Guthrie has called on all Guelph residents to help build a kinder, more just, and inclusive world.
“We stand in solidarity with our local Muslim community and join them in shock and sorrow at this hateful crime.,” Guthrie said. “We join all Canadians in mourning the three generations of one family who were so tragically killed, and we pray for the recovery of the family’s injured 9-year-old son.”