Muskoka vigil Thursday night at BMLSS for New Zealand mosque shooting victims

Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — The worldwide outpouring of support for Muslim victims of the deadly New Zealand mosques shooting is being felt here halfway around the world.

The “horrific” shooting deaths in Christchurch, N.Z., have prompted a worldwide outpouring of support for Muslims, including a peace vigil planned for this Thursday (March 21) at the Bracebridge high school at 6:30 p.m.

A 6:30 p.m. peace vigil Thursday night at the Bracebridge high school, sponsored by local Muslim community, has been organized.

The gathering in the cafeteria will include speakers including a Toronto mosque Imam, Ismail Ulghur, said Shaun Binger, a member of the Muskoka Muslim community.

The Fenbrook prison correctional officer, who has lived in central Muskoka for 20 years, says the Muslim community here is “very small,” but more than two dozen, including at least two Syrian refugee families in each of Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville. And another family in Parry Sound.

In addition there are several other Muslims, like him, who are not refugees, but who live in the area

Binger said there are also about 100 inmates at Fenbrook who are Muslims — some 70 in the medium security prison and 30 or so in the minimum side.

He said Trisha Cowie, the Liberal candidate in the last federal election reached out to him to express her “support and sorrow” to local Muslims.

And from that, he said it “morphed” into the vigil.

He said they “felt (the vigil) was the best way to address it.”

And that the school board “bent over backwards” to help them make it happen on short notice.

Binger reached out to Muskoka Lakes Anglican parish minister Gail Marie Henderson, who has a lot of contacts and also invited her to speak.

Everyone is being invited to the short service at 6:30 p.m. at BMLSS, co-organized by Trisha Cowie.

Everyone is welcome to join and show their support.

Henderson, who called the deaths of 50 people “horrific,” said the vigil was quickly organized and a location firmed up only late Tuesday afternoon and she began spreading the work through her contact list.

“One candle lights the way,” she told

Muskoka Muslims learned of the Christchurch massacre early on through their close network of families and acquaintances with relatives in New Zealand.

Binger called the shootings a “shock.”

“Whether it be a terrorist of anybody — not just Muslims — fanatics (like the shooter) are crazy.”

He said “Muslims stand behind Christians.”

He said, paraphrasing the Koran, that” It says anytime you kill someone you kill all of humanity.”

For his part, he says is just helping facilitate the vigil, “I’m not a public speaker.”

While he’d like to have seen a candlelight vigil in Memorial Park in Bracebridge, he said for older people the high school is a more comfortable option.

Still, he would like to see people bring signs of support.

‘”Muskoka is a great place,” said Binger. “It has good people.”

He said the “refugees have been accepted warmly in Muskoka.”