With rage, grief, and resolve

After these last few days, I’m feeling a mixture of rage, grief, and resolve. The news of Friday’s horrific Mosque attack in New Zealand, which claimed 50 lives, shook me to the core. 50 lives. 50 families abruptly and irreversibly altered.

As a member of the Muslim community, the rise of Islamophobia and white supremacy over the last few years weighs heavy on my heart. Each racist attack tries to instill fear in our communities. The attacker in Christchurch, New Zealand wrote the name of the Quebec mosque shooter on his weapon and his anti-immigrant manifesto closely mirrored the vitriol spouted by vocal white supremacists, and even some politicians, in Canada.

Friday’s tragedy affirmed for me that in our fight for climate justice, we must confront this rise of racism. We know that climate change impacts black, Indigenous and people colour — particularly in the global south — first and hardest. We are seeing this in real time with harrowing reports coming in on the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi this week. The UN is naming this disaster one of the worst to hit the Global South in recorded history and its impact further compounds colonial and imperialist injustices experienced by the region.

We also know that in Canada, and around the globe, the same political forces defending fossil fuels are also escalating attacks on migrants and refugees.

Community members enter Al-Jamia Masjid on unceded Coast Salish territories in Vancouver on Friday March 15th to pay their respects, light candles and offer flowers in solidarity for the victims of the Christchurch shooting. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Lighting candles and praying in a mosque full of grieving community members on Friday evening reminded me about the collective power we hold when we stand united in fierce love with a shared commitment to building a better future.

This Thursday, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, I hope this message reaches thousands of others.

Fear about the future is not my position. It’s hope. Hope about what we can save and do. That’s why last Friday also filled me with hope. There was something extraordinary and remarkable about seeing over 1.5 million people, mostly teenagers and children, from Nepal to Uganda, from Germany to Columbia, in big cities, small towns, and rural communities, join a global school strike calling for urgent action on climate change.

The student strikes may just be the largest global climate mobilization ever — and they are a tribute to the fact that even in the most devastating circumstances, beauty arises from unity and love.

Let’s demonstrate that kind of power again on Thursday March 21st. Will you join the mobilizations across Canada for the Day to #UniteAgainstRacism?

To win a Green New Deal for Canada that tackles economic, social and environmental crises together, we have to confront white supremacy and Islamophobia. Take action with me tomorrow on March 21st to #UniteAgainstRacism.

In solidarity and strength,

Atiya Jaffar

Pushing Canada to take real #climate leadership by freezing #tarsands and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. We're part of a global climate justice movement.

Pushing Canada to take real #climate leadership by freezing #tarsands and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. We're part of a global climate justice movement.