A large crowd gathered outside of Calgary city hall early Friday evening for a vigil honouring those lost to the senseless shooting of dozens of Muslim people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The congregation in Calgary carried signs opposing hatred and lit candles.

 “It’s not an event that’s too far from our scope, it’s very often that these things happen these days,” said Gursharan Pabla, a vigil participant. “It’s not an event that’s too far from our scope, it’s very often that these things happen these days. That’s unfortunate but that doesn’t mean we normalize it. It’s very important for us to remember that what makes us human is to feel for each other in these events.”

Pabla says hatred has been the root cause of recent violence against members of different religions and steps must be taken to bring people together. “Improvement, for me, needs to happen at a grassroots level where people spend more time bridging those gaps between different communities.”

“Making that effort to outreach programs or going to schools where children can at least see that it’s normal to have different people of different races, colours, religions, different headgear, whatever they wear. It needs to be normalized.”

Friday night’s vigil was organized to offer those who felt devastated by the hatred a place to come together within a community to share their feelings of heartache and grief.

The Calgary Police Service encourages anyone who is struggling to process their thoughts or emotions following the tragedy in New Zealand to reach out to the CPS Victims Assistance Support Team at 403-428-8398 or the Distress Centre 24-hour Crisis Line at 403-266-4357.