FIFSW statement on mass killings in London, Ontario
FIFSW resolutely joins the University of Toronto, local and global Muslim communities, and institutional and individual allies in outrage and grief in response to the targeted act of terror on a Muslim family in London, Ontario on June 6.
This premeditated mass murder, rooted in anti-Muslim hate, compounds the trauma, fear, and indignity borne by Muslim community members in the wake of increasingly pervasive and violent Islamophobia.
As social workers, we make critical linkages between physical, structural, and symbolic violence. We understand that anti-Muslim hate — in tandem with anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Semitism, and gender-based violence — is stoked as much by white supremacist extremism as by discriminatory government policies, like Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits religious freedom, and the federal Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (s.c. 2015), which enables surveillance of Muslims. Our work towards change must be as systemic as the hate and injustice we seek to eradicate.
Discrimination, xenophobia, and all forms of race- and faith-based violence have no place in a just society. We must continue to come together and remain steadfast in our commitment as social workers to actively recognize and work to dismantle the exclusion, discrimination, and violence embedded in our systems and ways of thinking.
The significant mental health toll that ongoing Islamophobia has on those in the Muslim community must be recognized. Equity, social justice, and human rights are key components of our collective mental health that cannot be taken for granted. However, as the memorial of flowers, signs, and candles at the site of the attack grows, the community’s strength and support for each other in the wake of this tragedy — and others — is a testament to its resilience.
As we are drawn together far too often in the search for words to express our devastation and solidarity against cruel acts of individual and mass violence, we recognize the need to work together to create spaces for healing and renewal, while fostering personal, collective, and systemic change.
For those in need of support at this time, please know that the University has services available for all students 24/7 through U of T’s My Student Support Program (MySPP). Muslim students can also access the counselling services of the Muslim Chaplaincy via https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/directory-of-chaplains/.
Staff and Faculty can access support 24/7 through the Employee and Family Assistance Program.
Beginning with a vigil for Muslim community members and allies on June 16th, U of T’s Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office will be hosting a series of events to hold space for community grieving, dialogue, hope, and healing. Visit ARCDO’s website for full details and to register.
Beyond the University the following mental health resources are also available for members of the Muslim community:
- Khalil Center – a psychological and spiritual community wellness centre advancing the professional practice of psychology rooted in Islamic principles. An initiative designed to address the widespread prevalence of social, psychological, familial, relational, and spiritual issues of Muslim communities.
- Naseeha Mental Health Hotline – a confidential resource providing web and phone therapy sessions as well as mental health support via text messaging to Muslim youth across North America, 7 days a week.
- Yusra Mental Health (YMH) – a non-profit initiative with the goal of making mental health events and services more accessible to the Muslim community at large. YMH collaborates with Muslim associations at other universities and campuses in addition to local mosques. It also provides free mental health events and workshops.
You may also learn about the University of Toronto’s Anti-Islamophobia Working Group via the Division of HR & Equity website.
The following faculty & staff contributed to writing and reviewing this statement: Rupaleem Bhuyan, usra leedham, David Brennan, Kyle Ganson, Toula Kourgiantakis, and Manaal Syed.
Photo, above: ONTARIO, CANADA – JUNE 07: People attend a memorial at the location where a family of five was hit by a driver, in London, Ontario, Canada, June 7, 2021. Four of the members of the family died and one is in critical condition. A 20 year old male has been charged with four counts of first degree murder and count of attempted murder in connection with the crime. (Photo by Brett Gundlock/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)