TORONTO – This weekend a stand against hatred took place on the court and on the ice, as two Canadian sports teams – the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs – visited London, Ont. To spread the unified message that hate has no home.
The Raptors held an open practice at Budweiser Gardens on Saturday, followed by a Maple Leafs alumni game on Sunday. Two events were organized with the aim of remembering the victims of an Islamophobic terror attack that took place four months ago.
On 6 June, members of the Afzal family were killed in London after a man hit them with his truck in what police called a targeted, hate-motivated attack. The only survivor was a nine-year-old boy, Faiz, who has recovered from his injuries and is back in school.
The attack shook the entire community and the whole of Canada.
“It was a deep scar, depending on how it happened and the circumstances surrounding it, so it will take some time,” Nawaz Tahir, spokesman for the London Muslim Mosque, told Granthshala News. “Unfortunately we keep hearing about various incidents and attacks and vandalism of mosques across the country.” […] How he heals the wound and opens that wound a little more.”
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said this weekend’s sporting events were organized to fight against hate.
He said, ‘We wanted to come here. “It gives us an opportunity to primarily use our platform to talk about these issues and let everyone know that they are welcome.”
Former NHL player Darryl Sittler, who attended Sunday’s alumni game, told Granthshala News that there is no room for hate crimes or discrimination.
“Not in this community or any community,” Sitter said.
At a press conference after the Raptors’ practice, Point guard Fred VanWallet said That the team is “against all forms of hatred, and we certainly stand with the Muslim community that was affected here in London.”
Tahir said sport can be an important integrating factor during the healing process.
“It’s a very powerful and heartwarming message, especially for our youth, which for many of them sports is a great outlet, a way to help them from a psychological point of view,” Tahir said.
The events weren’t just a show of support.
Funds raised from the events, along with a $250,000 installation from the MLSE Foundation in partnership with the City of London, will go toward the renovation of an outdoor court as a youth heritage project.
In addition, the money will also go towards mental health support as the community recovers.