By 7 p.m., approximately 300 attendees had gathered in front of Kingston City Hall with candles, tea-lights and placards in hand. At its peak, the number swelled to nearly 400, huddling together in temperatures dropping to -11 degree celcius to hear several speakers instill messages of hope and strength.
The event, organized by the Queen’s Socialists, featured signs with messages like “power to the peaceful,” and came to an end as the City Hall clock tower bells boomed overhead. At that point, the crowd erupted in to applause for the first time since the vigil’s sombre beginning.
As the crowd of all ages dispersed, after the last candle had been blown out, the Canadian flag above City Hall could be seen already lowered to half-mast.
Principal Daniel Woolf also acknowledged the recent events in a statement released on Monday morning.
“While the Queen’s community addresses, internally, issues of race and inclusion at home, we also need to be mindful of what is happening in the rest of the world,” he began in a statement issued via the Queen’s Gazette.
“Sunday evening’s attack at a mosque in Sainte-Foy, Que., is yet another reminder that even in Canada we are not immune to hatred and violence towards a group or individuals on the basis of their background, religion, or ethnicity,” he wrote.
Woolf also addressed the other issue affecting Queen’s students, in what he described as “the abrupt imposition of a halt on refugee admission in the United States,” calling President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries “a challenge to all of us who believe in an open and inclusive society. The values that underlie this divisive politics are not Canadian, and they are not those of Queen’s University.”
In his statement, Woolf asserted that Queen’s administration would work to ensure that all students and faculty travelling in or through the United States weren’t adversely affected, while also noting that, for some, the issue was more dire.
“We may well need to go beyond this,” he wrote, “and offer a safe haven in our university to faculty, staff, and students who suddenly find themselves in immigration limbo, unable to return to a US home and unable to go back to the country whence they travelled.”
The statement concluded with Woolf saying that, while no concrete plans had been put in place yet, he was personally in discussion with other university leaders on measures to be taken by multiple institutions across the country.
“At this stage we do not know how any of this is going to play out. But as a country, and as an individual university, it’s our obligation to do what we can to mitigate the consequences to faculty, students, and staff.”
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