Ingrid Mattson: “This is Why Canada is Truly an Abode of Peace”

On 24 October 2014, people in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, discovered that the Cold Lake Mosque — The MAC Islamic Centre of Cold Lake — had been vandalized. Some windows had been broken and the words “CANADA” and “Go home” had been spray painted on its exterior. Residents of Cold Lake scrubbed off the hateful graffiti and hung posters that stated, “Love your neighbour” and “You are home.” Nikki Williams, a Cold Lake resident, said, “I just came to help these guys get [the hateful graffiti] off the building and bring them supplies, a ladder, graffiti remover. The people who go to this mosque, I’ve been born and raised with since I was a little kid. This is their home. We don’t condone this at all. We’re a very tight community — the Muslims along with every other religion in this town — Cold Lake is their home.” Mayor Craig Copeland said, “Just what’s spray painted on the mosque, I mean, ‘Go home’ … The Muslim community here is at home here in Cold Lake.” He added, “All of Cold Lake is rallying around the mosque and the Muslim community. So many people from Cold Lake were coming up to them and apologizing and saying this by no means represents Cold Lake … There were actually several people in tears.” Genia Leskiw, MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly] for Bonnyville-Cold Lake, said, “It’s undemocratic and un-Canadian. It’s unbelievable. It floors me. I’m so upset by this.” Jason Kenney, Minister for Multiculturalism, said, “Earlier today vandals spray painted the Cold Lake Mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta with hate messages. This cowardly act is unacceptable and has no place in Canada.” He added, “Canada is a strong, peaceful, pluralistic nation, and Canadians will not stand for crimes of intolerance and bigotry against anyone. As Minister for Multiculturalism, I call on Canadians to firmly reject this and any other cowardly expressions of hatred against Canadians of any faith.” Cold Lake resident Matt Downy said, “These guys are peaceful, and I think it’s important for the community to show them that we know the difference between extremists and a religion.” Mahmoud El-Kadri, a director at the mosque, said, “I want to thank everybody. I am in my country, my home, but they assured for me that I am in my country, in my home.” He added, “I had calls from all over Canada, from Vancouver, from Ottawa … Toronto … Edmonton. When I came this morning and I felt the support of Cold Lake, I really forgot what happened. I forgot the windows, I forget about the writing … It made me feel like I am one of the Cold Lake people.” The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), which administers the mosque, issued a statement: “Today, we received an overwhelming and heartfelt response of support from friends across the community who assisted in a clean-up following an overnight incident at the local Mosque. We’re extremely grateful for the support. It is a reminder of the great country we live in and the values that we, as Canadians, hold dear.” Kanata’s Imam Sikander Hashmi tweeted, “Huge thanks to good people of Cold Lake, AB [Alberta] (incl. soldiers) for coming out to clean vandalism at mosque. We’re united against hate & fear.” Ingrid Mattson tweeted, “This is why Canada is truly an Abode of Peace.” The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the incident.

For More Information: “Cold Lake residents scrub hate messages off Mosque.” (Canada). 24 October 2014

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