Like all murders, their killing was an unspeakable crime against the sanctity of human life, and against the inviolable dignity of every human person.
As the Koran says, "whoever kills a soul… is like one who killed the whole of mankind,” a teaching echoed in the Jewish Talmud: "He who destroys a life... is as if he destroys an entire universe."
But this attack was even more than that.
Each of the murdered, and those who were wounded, were men of faith.
Each had chosen Canada as a land of new beginnings, opportunity, and freedom.
The killer was moved by hatred. He sought out peaceful Muslims, shooting them in the back while they were praying to God in a sacred place of worship.
It was a direct assault on the first fundamental freedom enumerated in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the freedom of religion.
From its beginning, Canada has been a haven for those persecuted because of their faith and conscience.
In a certain sense, this was an attack on all of them.
It was an attack on people of all faiths, and those who in conscience have no religious faith.
And it was specifically an attack on the Muslim faith.
At this time of great sorrow and anxiety for Canadian Muslims, I hope that we will all find some small way to demonstrate care, kinship and solidarity with our Muslim neighbours and fellow citizens.
As an Albertan, I am proud that this province has long been a welcoming home for Muslim Canadians.
In fact, the first Mosque in Canada, and the second in North America, was built in Edmonton.
The story of the Al-Rashid Mosque is the story of Canada. It was built in 1938 by immigrants from Lebanon, including Christians who pitched-in to help their Muslim friends in its construction.
One of the families who helped to build that first Mosque was the Shabens, who came from the Bekaa Valley to become fur traders in Alberta, and whose son Larry went on to become the first Muslim elected to public office in Canada, serving in Premier Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Cabinet.
The first Muslim elected to the Parliament of Canada was also an Albertan, my friend Rahim Jaffer, who I helped to get elected in 1997.
And Alberta is the home of the first Muslim Mayor of a major Canadian citizen, Naheed Nenshi.
Alberta has always been a place where Muslims can be fully Canadian, and true to their faith.
In light of this week’s act of terrorism, motivated by hatred and prejudice, let us all find ways to embrace our Muslim friends, and all people of faith, to ensure that this continues to be a place of freedom and security for generations to come.
And for those whose lives were taken, martyrs for their faith, I offer this prayer: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them."