Hundreds of protesters shut down Canada’s US Consulate in Toronto on Monday, protesting Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, demanding that Canadian politicians openly condemn racist and xenophobic rhetoric in the US and at home, and urging the government to do more for refugees.
Protests have erupted worldwide since a sweeping executive order from the newly sworn in president that resulted in immediate and unexpected detentions and deportations, and chaos in American airports, with family members left in confusion and immigration lawyers offering help.
Monday’s Toronto rally also came a day after a deadly attack on a mosque in Quebec City, that left six people dead after a gunman opened fire during evening prayers, and which weighed heavily on some of the demonstrators.
We spoke to young Muslim women at the protest about what brought them to the street and why Canadians should care about US refugee policy.
I felt a sense of being overwhelmed more than anything, especially with what happened last night in Quebec City, and a sense that in Canada, there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re seeing members of the Conservative leadership race, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, saying they see value in some of the rhetoric that Trump used to get elected.
It’s heartening to see that folks would come out on such short notice, and I honestly expect no less from Toronto. I’m hoping this is translated into each of these people messaging their MPs and asking for concrete action like the repeal of the Safe Third Country Agreement [which prohibits someone who has first sought refugee status in the US from then applying to Canada] and speaking out against what we’re seeing in the Conservative leadership race.
I hope folks… continue talking to their friends and family, showing people how to email their MP, how to read up on these issues and ways we can concretely do something about it.
History is repeating itself by banning people because of their religion, and I feel like people coming here is going to make a difference in the world and make people like Donald Trump know that people in Canada and America that are not with him.
We didn’t even know [the Quebec mass shooting] was going to happen and we were going to come here, and some of my siblings were crying because they were like, why is this happening in Canada? Canada is supposed to be peaceful… we were all very shook about that and we wanted to come here and make a difference.
Canada, we’re a peaceful country and we have to raise our voice to help Americans. I’m an American myself, I was born in America, and I’m not ashamed I was born there. I just want to help Americans.
(I’m here) to protest against Donald Trump and let him know that what he’s doing is wrong and to be equal to all races, and that people all around the world care. [Canada should care] because we’re neighbours. I’m a dual citizen, I’m American and Canadian, and my grandparents are in the US, and they care about different people around the world.
What happened in Quebec last night was really sad.
I feel like we’re under attack, and we have to say this ban can’t come to Canada. We are afraid and we should stand up for what we believe in. We matter, and I feel like we’re often spoken for, and we have an obligation to stand up for our brothers and sisters in America because if it happens here, we’d want them to stand up for us as well.
My sister’s bridesmaids are currently in Somalia and they’re American citizens who can’t come back right now. They already booked their tickets, and it sucks, but this is what happened and I have to stand up for them because they can’t stand up for themselves right now.
I was awake when the (Quebec shooting) happened. I actually didn’t sleep. I had to stay awake… My mom didn’t want me here because she’s afraid that someone’s going to see me and we’ll become victims of this too. But I feel like this is what we have to do right now.
What brings me here today is that I heard about the Muslim ban, and I wanted to come here to represent myself. I’m really glad that there are non-Muslims here who support us. I don’t want hatefulness to come into this country.
Canadians should care because we’re all the same and religion shouldn’t divide us as humans.
I was following the news out of Quebec last night and I was fearful of going to any masjid and praying. What if it happens to me? But today I think Canada is a safe place and just because one incident occurred, I won’t let fear tame me.