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McGill’s Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec Memorial Award Helps to Foster an Inclusive Society
10
Mar
2021

McGill’s Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec Memorial Award Helps to Foster an Inclusive Society

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Published in News

Standing in the face of hate and islamophobia in Quebec, a group of McGill Alumni is raising funds to support and encourage students advocating for a more inclusive and harmonic society.

On January 29, 2017, at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (CCIQ), six men lost their lives and many others were injured while praying at their local mosque, due to a vicious mass shooting fueled by hate and islamophobia. In response to this heinous act, the McGill community came together to commemorate the memory of the victims. In a tree planting ceremony, McGill established the CCIQ Memorial Award in 2018 which aims at encouraging efforts for greater harmony, understanding and coexistence in Quebec society.

In an effort to sustain the award in perpetuity, a group of McGill alumni are holding a virtual fundraiser starting March 10th, which marks McGill University’s Annual Day of Giving. Funds from the award are given each year to support and recognize students at McGill University who are working towards building social harmony and coexistence for Muslims in the greater Canadian society, in order to cultivate unity, equal rights and security.

Since its inception, the award has supported several McGill students in their studies as well as their efforts to counter rising Islamophobia and cultural bias. One of the first awardees, Lina Bensaidane, mentions how important the award meant to her: “When the attack happened, most [Muslims] felt directly targeted. In the weeks that followed the attack, a huge wave of empathy and support was felt from public figures and politicians. However, as time went by, this wave of support considerably diminished, and political measures that seemed directly targeted against Muslims started coming back to light, such Bill 62 and Bill 21. In the meantime, McGill had announced the inauguration of [the CCIQ Memorial] award, which felt like a wave of solidarity to me. [This award] does not only encourage students to initiate hands-on events that destigmatize the Muslim community, but also sends the message that such involvement is worth being rewarded for. The fact that renowned institutions such as McGill stand up for these initiatives demonstrates that tolerance of islamophobia is unacceptable and cannot be left unaddressed.”

The award, valued at $1,200, is given to up to two full-time undergraduate or graduate students in a McGill degree program with good standing who have:

  • Demonstrated a commitment to fostering the inclusion of Muslims within Quebec and Canadian society
  • Characteristics of service and dedication
  • Worked with other groups or individuals in society to build bridges and understanding
  • Acted publicly in ways that helped improve the image and public opinion regarding Muslims
  • Participated in outreach activities undertaken by Muslim groups or by others towards Muslims

The CCIQ Memorial award is necessary to encourage new generations of Quebecers and Canadians to preserve the values of multiculturalism, unity and acceptance that Quebec and Canada pride themselves for. The atrocity of the CCIQ mass shooting is abhorred by all Quebecers and Canadians, and initiatives such as the CCIQ Memorial award aim to prevent such an atrocity from happening again.

If you would like to support the CCIQ Memorial Award, please consider making a tax-deductible donation through the McGill Seeds of Change virtual fundraiser starting March 10th, when donations will be augmented by McGill University.

Reflections from past CCIQ Memorial Award winners:

Answers from Khadija

Why do you think it is important to have an award like the CCIQ Memorial award at McGill?

I think it is particularly important that we support and recognize Muslim members' positive efforts within our McGill community in a unique province such as Quebec after the horrific events on January 29, 2017. Mais aussi Il est important de démontrer que en meme temps: nous pouvons tous vivre ensemble harmonieusement au Québec. Il est important d'illustrer cela : nous pouvons tous vivre ensemble harmonieusement au Québec

What has winning the award meant to you personally?

I’m grateful to receive the award although I understand that it would not exist, if it were not for the tragic shooting of 2017. This award allows us to all reflect on how we failed the victims of the shooting and how much more work there is to do regarding Islamophobia. Mais aussi en célébrant toutes les personnes qui s'investissent pour assurer un avenir inclusif qui inclut les musulmans à McGill, à Montréal, au Québec

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Answers from Lina

Why do you think it is important to have an award like the CCIQ Memorial award at McGill?

Given the current political atmosphere and the stigma surrounding Muslims in Quebec, it is essential to promote any initiative that humanizes the Muslim community and yearns towards coexistence and acceptance. Awards such as the CCIQ Memorial Award not only encourage students to initiate hands-on events that destigmatize the Muslim community, but also send the message that such involvement is worth being rewarded for. The fact that renowned institutions such as McGill stand up for these initiatives demonstrates that tolerance of islamophobia is unacceptable and cannot be left unaddressed.

What has winning the award meant to you personally?

Receiving this award meant so much to me. Like many Muslims in Quebec, I spent my younger years learning Arabic and taking Qur'an lessons at the local mosque on weekends. For me, that local mosque was the CCIQ, as I used to live in Quebec City. The Muslim community in Quebec City is a tightly knit one - we all knew one another. As such, when the attack happened, most of us felt directly targeted. In the weeks that followed the attack, a huge wave of empathy and support was felt from public figures and politicians. This made me very hopeful as to the initiatives that would be put in place to eliminate islamophobia. However, as time went by, this wave of support considerably diminished, and political measures that seemed directly targeted against Muslims started coming back to light: first Bill 62, then Bill 21. In the meantime, McGill had announced the inauguration of this award, which felt like a wave of solidarity to me. For me, this meant that McGill refuses to forget the danger of islamophobia and how it caused the loss of six lives, even at a time where the political atmosphere in the province seemed to go in another direction. It really was extremely heartwarming to receive support from McGill for something that has such significant emotional value to me.

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Read 2045 times Last modified on Thu, 18 Mar 2021 10:57
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