Kogon sends Amherst's sympathy to victims of Quebec City shooting

Vigil planned for Friday at First Baptist Church


Published on February 1, 2017

Amherst Mayor Dr. David Kogon signs a book of condolence at town hall. Books of condolence are located at town hall and the Amherst Stadium and a vigil is planned for Friday at noon at Amherst First Baptist Church.

©Submitted

AMHERST, N.S. – Amherst’s mayor is very familiar with religious persecution.

Dr. David Kogon is proud of his Jewish heritage and feels for the victims of last week’s shooting at a mosque in Quebec City and its impact on the Muslim community.

As a Canadian I am ashamed this cowardly act took place in our country. As a Canadian Jew I am saddened that people of all faiths still do not have the freedom to practice their religion without fear of violence. Dr. David Kogon, Amherst Mayor

“Canada is a haven people come to escape religious persecution and now they’re being attacked because of the religion they’re practising. That’s a sad, sad statement and I feel shame as a Canadian,” Kogon.

Kogon’s four grandparents came to Canada early in the 1900s to escape Jewish pogroms in Odessa it what was the Russian Empire and is now the Ukraine. At that time, people were being discriminated against and killed because of their Jewish faith.

“People were being killed because they were Jewish so they chose to come to Canada because it was and still is a haven,” Kogon said. “When the Second World War happened my people were already settled in Canada, but there were family members by marriage who were concentration camp detainees. Religious persecution is very personal for me.”

Six people were killed in the shooting in Quebec’s capital city in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a terrorist attack.

The shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, is facing six counts of first-degree murder.

“On behalf of the citizens of Amherst, I want to send sincere condolences to the Muslim community in Quebec City and throughout the country,” Kogon said. “As a Canadian I am ashamed this cowardly act took place in our country. As a Canadian Jew I am saddened that people of all faiths still do not have the freedom to practice their religion without fear of violence.

“We want to send the message that we stand together with them and fight for freedom.”

Flags in Amherst have been lowered to half-staff and books of condolence have been placed at town hall and the Amherst Stadium.

A vigil is being organized for noon Friday at the Amherst First Baptist Church.

Rev. Byron Corkum said the vigil will only be 15 to 20 minutes in duration and will feature comments from the mayor, MLA Terry Farrell and Rev. Nigel Weaver on behalf of the Amherst and Area Ministerial Association.

Corkum said the vigil is open the public and is encouraging people to attend to pay their respects to the victims and those affected.

Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey also issued a statement on the shooting saying he is deeply saddened.

“This hate crime, this act of terrorism does not reflect the Canada I know and want for our children and grandchildren,” Casey said. “To commit this act in a place of worship shocks the conscience of every right-thinking person. It is to be condemned in the strongest terms and the perpetrator brought to justice.”

Casey said he’s privileged to work with and represent Muslim Canadians. He said they are among the hardest-working and most peace-loving Canadians he knows.

“International events have stirred strong emotions, but Canada must remain a standard-bearer of peace and tolerance. Canada will not be dragged down by hate and fear. We will stick to our principles and stock together and be the example the world needs.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell