Churches across Canada are joining in grief as a community mourns the loss of a family who was killed in a terrorist attack.
On Monday evening, a family in London, Ontario was crossing the intersection of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road when a black pickup truck mounted the curb, striking the family's five members. A 74-year-old female, a 46-year-old male, a 44-year-old female, and a 15-year-old female have all died. A nine-year-old boy survived but is facing serious, non-life-threatening injuries in the hospital. The 20-year-old male driver sped away and has since been taken into custody and is charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
"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 Service says in a statement. They say the family and suspect are not connected.
We all mourn together for this unspeakable tragedy. We thank all #FirstResponders who attended to the incident and thank the many community members who stopped to offer support, who called 9-1-1, and those who remained with the victims until first responders arrived. #LdnOnt pic.twitter.com/CoWkepjdUu— London Police Service ON (@lpsmediaoffice) June 8, 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says in a House of Commons speech that the killings were a terrorist attack, calling the attack brutal and cowardly.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, a national Muslim association in Canada, says they are shocked after hearing what happened to the family.
“We are utterly devastated and heartbroken to learn of this hate-motivated and senseless attack on an innocent family,” Lal Khan Malik, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada says in a statement. “There must be no place for hate and intolerance in Canada and our deepest thoughts and prayers are for the victims and their family.”
Churches in London and across the country are uniting, showing support for the family and Muslim community as they face difficult days ahead.
The Archbishop and Primate Linda Nicholls of the Anglican Church of Canada, who lives in London, shared a lengthy statement about the killings, expressing her and the Church's sorrow.
"The Anglican Church of Canada is committed to dismantling: racism; acts of hatred; and culturally and religiously motivated hate, in all their forms. This includes Islamophobia, which is again on the rise," she writes, noting the Anglican Church has been committed to an ongoing dialogue between Christians and Muslims since 2020.
The London District Catholic School Board, whose St. John Immersion Catholic School is located down the road, says they stand with the Muslim and London Community.
"We are shocked and saddened regarding the senseless act of hate and violence that took the lives of four family members on Sunday evening. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family, their friends as well as the greater Muslim community as they grieve this tragic loss," the school board says in a statement. "We pray for peace and understanding, we pray for safety for the Muslim community in London, and we pray for everyone who is persecuted because of their religion."
Gateway Church, which is within walking distance of the fatal attack, is encouraging its members to join them in creating a human chain along the crime scene. They are asking people to bring chalk to draw hearts to represent "all of our love and support" in keeping London safe.
"Our hearts are broken and together we grieve with you over this ungodly action. We stand with you...love you and continue to pray with you," the church writes on Facebook.
Local police are diverting traffic for the London Muslim Mosque's vigil.
West Park Church, a multicultural church located a kilometre away from the attack, says they have heavy hearts.
"No one should face this form of hatred for their religious beliefs. We are praying for deep healing for all those affected by this tragedy."
The United Church of Canada shares Richard Bott, the church's 43rd Moderator's post.
"Let us use all that we have and all that we are to stand in the face of the evil that would allow and cause this crime of hatred. Even as one man has been arrested for his actions, let us uncover and work against the beliefs, the worldview, the racism and the hatred that supported his choice."
Bott says the deaths were an act of terrorism against Islam.
Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration has set up a supporting line for London community members, 519-672-6000 ext. 309.