A Response to the Christchurch Tragedy

YWCA Cambridge unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks in Christchurch New Zealand. As an organization with a degree of visibility in the community, we feel it is our duty to speak out about these atrocities, and to say without reservation that we condemn white supremacy, we condemn racism, we condemn Islamophobia.

We as an organization are part of a global network of YWCAs. Our organizations often serve some of the most marginalized people. It’s in our mission and values to give voice to the needs of the people we serve through services and advocacy. Inclusion and equity are two of our core values.

Today, we mourn the 49 New Zealanders killed, we hope for the 20 injured and we send love and support to the families of these victims who are no doubt reeling.

We must all start talking about the growing violent white supremacy, and those of us on the right side of history must stand up and speak up.

And let’s remember that Canada is not immune to terrorist attacks such as this one in Christchurch. It was only two years ago when the Quebec City mosque shooting happened. This is clearly not just about gun control. This is about challenging and changing prevailing views that nurture hate. It’s about having these conversations with everyone around us, and speaking up when even the most seemingly harmless racist remark is casually slung in a conversation. Each racist act, no matter how small, is a piece of the whole system of white supremacy, and that system will only be dismantled when we all do the often uncomfortable work of calling out problematic opinions and behaviours.

Let’s not leave the work of calling out racism to the folks who are in the communities impacted by it. That’s not fair. We all have the responsibility, especially those of us with visible privilege to use that privilege to change the narrative.

It’s also important to remember that so many of us are settlers ourselves. If we are going to stay here, we need to share the lands, and do the work of ensuring everyone is supported and welcome.

Immigrants are welcome. Immigrants belong. Muslims belong. A richer society includes all voices.

Let’s all do better.

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