The nation of Canada is shaken this week as we mourn two soldiers who were unjustly killed.
On Tuesday, two members of the Canadian Armed Forces were struck by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau. Couture-Rouleau had waited in a parking lot for hours, waiting specifically for Canadian soldiers to make an appearance. Once he spotted two targets, he pulled out and struck them down. One soldier sustained injuries, yet thankfully he’s still alive. The other one was killed. Couture-Rouleau was chased and shot down by Quebec police.
The second killing happened yesterday in Ottawa by the war memorial. Two military men were performing sentry duty when one of them was taken down by a gunshot. The gunman had escaped. Later on, more gunshots were reported being fired inside the main Parliament building. The RCMP responded and took down Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who is suspected of having shot and killed Corporal (Cpl.) Nathan Cirillo.
Two military members have been killed over two days. National security has tightened. Bases across Canada are taking measures to ensure the safety of our troops. Some even went into lockdown after yesterday’s events. Serving members are all but ordered to never leave base with their uniforms on anymore.
I am Canadian, born and raised. In my 26 years of living here, I have a hard time thinking of the last time that we, as a nation, were this affected. Yes, there was 9/11, when we mourned with our allies over the immense loss which they suffered on that day. I do not wish to compare the killing of two men to the annihilation of so many lives. When America was attacked, we felt it. That hit close to home.
Now, we are being attacked within our own home. ISIS/L has demanded that its supporters carry out attacks against its enemies, including us. In Canada, they have succeeded twice. Two unarmed soldiers who had been going about their day or carrying about peaceful activities were killed by such supporters.
Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were both Canadian, born and raised. I feel this is the most disturbing part of what happened: these people were our own. They had both converted to Islam and become more and more radicalized. Converting to Islam is not a crime. Yet these men identified with the enemy, and did the work of the enemy. Both these men were weak-minded and weak-willed with extensive criminal records. For whatever reason, they found solace and purpose with our enemies, and carried out their will to harm and intimidate our nation.
There is a lot of blame going around as to why this was able to happen. Some blame is being laid on our country being too trusting with the people we allow to live here. We’re too lenient, they suggest, and we submit too easily to give them rights and privileges which they never would have had anywhere else. There are so few countries like Canada or the United States where people are allowed to immigrate here, be given rights to welfare and aid, and benefit fully from freedom of speech, including the right to protest, and the right to their beliefs and religions.
Then there is blame being placed on a Prime Minister who has all too eagerly allows us to be dragged into conflicts which were never ours to fight. We have always been strong supporters of our allies, perhaps to a fault. Like a brother or a best friend, we seem always willing to back up our neighbors, even when they’re the ones to start the fights.
Yet laying blame is a fruitless endeavor. Quite the opposite: it will divide and weaken us. We must be vigilant, but not afraid. We must mourn and remember the lives we’ve lost, but we must not allow ourselves to be shattered.
We must remain as we’ve always been:
Strong. Proud. Ready.