On October 22, 2014, a recent covert to Islam decided to heed the call from ISIS to kill some people who represented the country of Canada in the name of bringing honour to Allah. Here’s the story from Wikipedia:
A series of shootings occurred on October 22, 2014, at Parliament Hill and nearby in Ottawa, Canada. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial. He then launched an attack in the nearby Centre Block parliament building, where members of the Parliament of Canada were attending caucuses. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed inside the building in a gunfight with parliament security personnel. Following the shootings, the downtown core of Ottawa was placed on lockdown while police searched for any potential additional threats.
The shootings took place two days after an attack on military personnel in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, which also killed a Canadian soldier. Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said both of these attacks serve as a “grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”
Yes these attacks were a reminder that we are a part of the world. But these attacks allowed Canadians to demonstrate to the rest of the world what secular values of nationhood mean in action:
This is a typical overpass of a four lane divided highway running along a populated corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City in Canada. The Corporal body was driven from where he was killed in Ottawa to his home town of Hamilton. The journey along this section of highway is about 350 Km and has about 50 overpasses. When Corporal Cirillo’s body was repatriated to his home town, this was a typical image that greeted the small convoy.
The point is that our national anthem includes the words “We stand on guard for thee.’ Cirillo was ceremonially doing exactly that at the National War Memorial when he was shot and killed… not for who he was but for what he represented, what he was defending. That cannot be killed. It can, however, be a value reinvigorated in our hearts and minds. And this is exactly what such attacks do. They remind all of us -again – what it is that is worth defending: the rights and freedoms all of us share. What you’re seeing in this picture is the average Canadian and local municipal forces repaying that same debt all of us share and taking our turn… to stand on guard for him.
In case one might be tempted to see this event as some kind of media circus, let me assure you that it happened spontaneously. Across the country the same sentiment was expressed time and again at every local cenotaph. Poppies appeared. Hand written notes were left. Flowers set out by the anonymous. Even 3500 Km away in the recesses of the mountains of British Columbia, we find the same sentiment on display:
This is what it means to be Canadian – different in all ways imaginable yet each a part of the whole by what we share: our values of freedom, equality rights, and the dignity of personhood that resides within the living heart of each person who wears a uniform. And even though the military brass was quick to order our men and women out of uniform to avoid being targets, I saw a common and spontaneous response to that: hundreds of local cadets and retired military people don their uniforms in the following days not just to make a statement of support but remind the military itself that we are not separate groups and organizations and institutions … but one people who share in the active defense of our values. This is the lesson from a terrorist attack and one that more terrorists themselves should heed because since our inception, Canada has been and shall remain a warrior nation first and a peacekeeper only second. We really do stand on guard for thee.