By: EMMA TRANTER
On Oct. 3 students and faculty at Carleton University held a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the September Westgate Mall shooting in Nairobi, Kenya.
Nearly fifty people attended the vigil organized by Carleton’s International Student’s Centre (CISC) and the East African Students Association of Carleton (EASAC). Coming to honour the victims of the attack, and to show their support to everyone affected by the situation.
The crowd gathered in the Atrium before the vigil to mourn the tragedy of the shootings and the 67 people who were killed.
A poster displayed messages such as, “We are one,” as well as a sheet signed by students sending well wishes to Kenya.
Paola Biramvu, a Carleton student, said she attended the event to support her friends.
“I have a lot of Kenyan friends,” Biramvu said. “I grew up in Tanzania, close to Kenya. I have spoken to my friends and… They’re scared.”
The evening began with people singing the Kenyan national anthem, followed by two minutes of silence. Candles were distributed to each person and as night fell, the procession headed outside. As people gathered in a circle, each candle was lit before another moment of silence.
The group then began to walk through campus. As they weaved between buildings, candles in hand, many students heading to class stopped to watch the demonstration take place.
“The fact that we were walking around and got people looking is what this event is for… That small impact of walking with the candles and the Kenyan flag got people asking and wondering what was happening,” said Bertha Kizito, president of EASAC
“I think it’s important to hold events like this to get the word out on events that are happening worldwide, not just events that are happening in Ottawa or Canada, but events that are happening everywhere,” she added.
Those who attended and organized the event deemed the candlelight vigil a success. Many prominent Carleton figures, including the Carleton University president Roseann O’Reilly Runte and Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) president Alexander Golovko were present Thursday evening.
Elvin Ruge, president of CISC said it is important to display Carleton’s diversity in events such as this.
“We have students here from all of Africa, the Caribbean, and Canadians,” he said. “We’re here to show support to the Kenyan victims, and that’s really what Carleton is about.”
With the Westagte Mall tragedy still fresh in the minds and hearts of everyone affected, the candlelight vigil made the effort to respectfully honour those who were lost in the attack.