PM Trudeau vows strong action as nation grieves the killing of four Muslim family members, run down by the driver of a pick-up truck in Ontario province.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined several thousand mourners in a vigil to remember three generations of a Canadian Muslim family killed in a terror attack, as a grieving community stood united in the midst of the crisis.
"This is our city," Bilal Rahhal, chair of the London Muslim Mosque, told the crowd on Tuesday.
"Never allow anyone to make you think otherwise because of the color of your skin, your faith, or where you were born. ... This is our city and we're not going anywhere."
On Sunday, four members of the family were killed as they were out on an evening walk near their home in London, Ontario, when police say a man rammed them with his pick-up truck, targeting them because of their religion.
The victims were Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna Afzaal; and Afzaal's 74-year-old mother.
Their 9-year-old son, Fayez Afzaal, remained hospitalised on Tuesday with serious but non-life-threatening wounds in stable condition.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, has been charged with driving a pickup truck onto a curb and hitting the family in London, a city of over 400,000 people located 200km southwest of Toronto.
He was arrested on Sunday just a few hundred metres from the London Muslim Mosque, which the Afzaal family attended and where Tuesday's vigil was held.
Trudeau calls it an 'act of evil'
Addressing the mourners, Trudeau said his government would take action, after placing flowers on the steps of the mosque, without giving details.
"This was an act of evil. But the light of the people here today, the light of the lives of the Afzaal family – that will always outweigh the dark," Trudeau said.
"This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities," Trudeau said earlier during an impassioned speech at the House of Commons.
The majority of people attending wore masks, after the Ontario government made exception to Covid-19 restrictions to allow the vigil to take place.
The only survivor of the car attack in Canada on a Muslim family walking is 9 year old Fayez Salman. The trauma that he has to live with is unbearable to even think about. Unacceptable for a child in Palestine or Canada or anywhere else. #OurLondonFamily pic.twitter.com/Ub8oTEz1gH— Dr. Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) June 8, 2021
Canada's opposition leader, Erin O'Toole, other political leaders including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the first person of color to lead a federal political party in Canada, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford were also in attendance.
The attack has caused a nationwide outpouring of grief, with similar vigils taking place in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities across Canada.
The #OurLondonFamily hashtag had almost 10,000 tweets posted on Tuesday evening, and many on social media changed their avatars to an image posted by the London Muslim Mosque of four white outlines of the victims on a purple background with a green ribbon.