The City of Salmon Arm had more than words of condolence to offer in response to the March 15 shootings at a New Zealand mosque that left 49 people dead.
A Facebook post, shared by the city the day after the shootings, is resonating among Salmon Arm and Shuswap residents for its eloquent show of compassion and support for the Muslim community, at home and abroad.
The post concludes with the statement, “We are resolved in our efforts to ensure and protect the safety of our beloved Muslim community. We are them. They are us. Today we mourn. Tomorrow we continue in our quest to reject hate and intolerance with deep respect and condolences for those lost and the communities left behind in sorrow and sadness.”
Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison says the post represents a gathering of thoughts at the city.
“We really felt the need to express to our community more than just our sadness and our grief over what happened…,” said Harrison. “We wanted to express the values that we hold here as a city and we did not feel we were speaking just for council, we felt we were speaking for the residents of Salmon Arm that intolerance and non inclusion are not what we stand for.
“We want all our of our residents, in particular our Syrian people who are here and our Muslim community who are probably feeling vulnerable at this time, we want them to know they are a part of our community, an important part, and we care for their safety.”
Salmon Arm council has consistently supported community groups that have helped refugee families at risk to relocate to the community. Part of that support has been the provision of transit passes.
The message Harrison and council wish to stress is that they, they city and its people are accepting of everyone, regardless of background, political stance or sexual orientation or even “if you don’t agree with the mayor on each decision that he makes.”
“What matters is diversity in all forms,” said Harrison. “We welcome that because that’s what makes a strong community.” have to be accepting and we have to educate all people, because when we educate and communicate, people understand. Regardless of what happened in New Zealand,that is what we feel and that is what we stand for.”