In response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, UBC Okanagan students will gather today to both mourn lives lost and discuss a brighter path forward.
The decision to hold a ceremony to mark the recent violence was made when Ryan Kaila reached out through the university’s network of cultural groups, and asked, “What should we do?”
From the feedback gathered, it was decided to take a stand, have a moment of silence and spread more awareness among their peers about what’s happening in their respective communities.
“As students we are ministers of peace,” said Kaila, vice-president finance and operations of the students’ union at UBC Okanagan.
“It is our duty to show our support and pay our respect to all those who are affected by these acts of terror.”
Representatives from UBC Okanagan’s Muslim, European, African, Caribbean, Asian and Arab student associations will be in attendance, and some will offer insight into the day’s headlines.
Of note, said Kaila, will be the Muslim Association. A member of that organization will offer their perspective on recent narratives about Islam and the Syrian refugee crisis.
They’ve also to put together a plan for a project that will offer an image of diversity and unity the community can look at until the end of the week.
“Everybody is going to be asked to place two fingerprints together, and that will make the shape of a heart,” he said.
Celebrating diversity is something that Kaila is becoming known for, and it’s part of the reason he knew that the university community would rally around the idea of this event.
He recently organized the Harmony Banquet at UBC Okanagan, which gathered members of various cultural groups together.
It was a success, and it helped build the spirit of cooperation in the university.
Today’s ceremony is scheduled for noon and open to the greater community. Those who attend are asked to wear black as a sartorial salute to their solidarity.
On Friday, 129 were killed in a co-ordinated assault on the French capital.
Hours earlier, a double suicide bombing ripped through a working-class shopping district in Beirut. ISIS claimed responsibility for those explosions as well, which caused 43 deaths and hundreds of casualties.