Families of Quebec City mosque shooting victims fight for compensation
Almost two years after the attack on a mosque in Quebec City, some of the victims are still fighting for compensation. The shooting left six men dead – and left behind six widows, and 17 children without a father.
Those grieving the dead are seeking to be recognized as victims of a criminal offence, because they currently are not, according to IVAC (Indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels or Compensation for Victims of Crime), the body in charge of granting aid to victims of crime.
“It’s not only the victim who was directly injured, but those who are, by reason of the accident, a victim of shock. That’s what happened to most of the people,” said Marc Bellemare, the lawyer who is fighting the case on behalf of widow Khadija Thabti. Thabti also has two children, Mohamed, 13, and Meriem, 5.
One of the criteria to be viewed as a victim of a crime in Quebec and receive the associated aid is to have been at the scene of the crime when it occurred.
Hypothetically, if someone was close enough to the mosque that night to hear the shots and fear for their life, or if the shooter brushed shoulders with a person before entering the mosque to start shooting, they would have a stronger case for being considered a victim over a widow or orphan whose life was indeed destroyed by the event.
Bellemare argues that his client is clearly a victim in this case, adding that the fact that Thabti has been waiting for that recognition for almost two years is unacceptable.
“When you arrive at the mosque and you see all the police, all the people, and you know that somebody killed somebody else in the mosque, you fear for yourself – maybe I’ll be the next one – and you fear for somebody you love who was inside the mosque where the shooting took place,” he said.
Bellemare, who formerly served as Quebec’s justice minister, is calling on current Justice Minister Sonia Lebel to take direct action to tell IVAC to change the way it evaluates cases.