Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette sentenced to life in prison, no parole for 40 years


Alexandre Bissonnette, the man responsible for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years.

READ MORE: Quebec Muslim community welcomes statement by accused shooter’s parents

Bissonnette pleaded guilty last March to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in the attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.

Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot chose not to give him consecutive sentences, where he would have been eligible for release in 150 years.

The judge said Friday he took all 24 past decisions of consecutive sentencing — Section 745.51 of the Criminal Code, which was added in 2011 — into account before rendering his decision.

WATCH BELOW: A timeline of the deadly Quebec City mosque shooting.

Huot concluded demanding consecutive sentences was “constitutionally invalid” and is calling for the federal government to reform the law.

Bissonnette also faces a lifetime ban on owning firearms.

Friday morning, Bissonnette entered the Quebec City courtroom, wearing a dark blue suit with a white dress shirt.

WATCH BELOW: Alexandre Bissonnette arrives for sentencing in Quebec City mosque shooting

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Before giving his sentence, Huot warned the room of about 250 people to be respectful of the decision, noting that no protest will be tolerated.

READ MORE: Judge tells Quebec mosque shooting victims not to blame killer’s parents

“[It was] a premeditated and gratuitous act,” he told the court, adding that it was “a tear of our social fabric.”

“Despite the time passed, it will remain forever engraved in our collective memory.”

Huot noted Bissonnette was not working in January 2017 because of an anxiety disorder. Doctors had prescribed him Paxil.

The judge summarized Bissonnette’s internet search history, which included looking up the 2015 San Bernardino attack, information on how to prepare his guns and research on other possible targets — including feminist groups, schools, malls and airports.

He mentioned an incident two months before the mosque attack when Bissonnette loaded his weapons and went to a local mall in Quebec City intending to commit mass murder, but changed his mind.

READ MORE: Inside the mind of a killer: What we now know about Alexandre Bissonnette’s Quebec mosque shooting plot

Huot spoke of the night itself, when Bissonnette walked into a mosque in the provincial capital at 7:54 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2017, and opened fire during evening prayers.

WATCH BELOW: Alexandre Bissonnette parents arrive ahead of sentencing

Citing security footage, Huot mentioned “a small girl with a pink hat runs without knowing where to hide,” until someone pulls her to safety. There were four children in the mosque that night.

READ MORE: After nearly two years of fighting, Quebec City Mosque shooting widow will get compensation

He noted Bissonnette acted with “calculation, determination and in cold blood,” adding he held racist beliefs and the crime was precipitated by a “visceral hate for immigrants.”

The entire massacre was 90 seconds. There were 48 shots fired in that time.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooting: Remembering the victims and moving on 2 years later

As the judge talked, Bissonnette stared down at the ground, moving only occasionally to fidget or look briefly up at the ceiling.

WATCH BELOW: Victims of Quebec City mosque shooting ‘accept’ guilty plea from gunman

READ MORE: Defence argues 150 years in prison for Quebec mosque shooter would deprive him of hope

According to the numerous victim testimonies, many of the people there that night are still traumatized, live in fear, and some are unable to work because of the terror they feel.

The victims of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting arrive to sentencing, Fri., Feb. 8, 2019.

Jean-Vincent Verville/Global News

Bissonnette’s trial was expected to be a landmark case, forcing Huot to declare last October that he needed more time to decide between sentencing him consecutively (150 years) or concurrently (25 years).

READ MORE: Defence argues 150 years in prison for Quebec mosque shooter would deprive him of hope

Bissonnette’s defence team had previously stated consecutive sentencing should be declared unconstitutional and invalid as it contravenes Article 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual treatment.

“It (Section 745.51) denies outright the possibility of humanity for a person,” he told Huot last summer.

“Without hope, what is the meaning of a life? There isn’t any.”

The mosque shooting claimed the lives of six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57 and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette to be sentenced Friday


The man who murdered six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017 will learn Friday whether he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot is set to decide how long Alexandre Bissonnette will spend in custody before he is eligible for parole.

Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette could receive longest prison term ever in Canada

Bissonnette, 29, pleaded guilty last March to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder after he walked into the mosque during evening prayers on Jan. 29, 2017 and opened fire.

The Crown has recommended that Bissonnette serve six consecutive sentences totalling 150 years, while the defence has argued he should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

The Criminal Code was amended in 2011 to allow a judge to impose consecutive sentences in cases of multiple murder.

Several of the survivors and the victims’ families have argued for a sentence longer than 25 years, noting the heinous nature of the crime and the lasting trauma it caused for the Muslim community.


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Two victims of Quebec City mosque shooting receive medals for acts of courage – Montreal


Two victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting are among eight Quebecers being honoured Monday by the provincial government for their acts of courage.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooting: Remembering the victims and moving on 2 years later

Medals were awarded to Aymen Derbali, who was left paralyzed from the waist down, and to Azzedine Soufiane, one of six men killed in the Jan 29, 2017 attack.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec City mosque shooting widow to get compensation

The 57-year-old Soufiane managed to pounce on the gunman and overpower him for several seconds, but he died when the shooter broke free and fired his weapon.

READ MORE: After nearly two years of fighting, Quebec City Mosque shooting widow will get compensation

Derbali, who was hit by seven bullets, put himself in the line of fire in an effort to distract the shooter. He now uses a wheelchair.

WATCH BELOW: Money raised to buy accessible home for Quebec mosque shooting victim

Alexandre Bissonnette, who is to be sentenced on Friday, has pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.

READ MORE: François Legault backtracks on Islamophobia comment after outcry by Muslim groups

Justice Minister Sonia LeBel presented the medals at a ceremony at the National Assembly.

WATCH: Canadian Muslim alliance remembers Quebec City mosque shooting.


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Survivor Aymen Derbali sets out to combat hate, 2 years after Quebec City mosque shooting


Aymen Derbali swivels his wheelchair toward the large windows of his new living room, sparsely furnished with ornate rugs.

He bows his head and closes his eyes, taking a moment for his afternoon prayer, before talking about the turning point in his life — moving into a new home with his family last August, after being apart for nearly 18 months.

« I was able to go back to my home and have a normal life, like before the tragedy, » he said.

Derbali, a father of three, nearly avoided the attack that killed six people and seriously wounded him and four others at Quebec City’s Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017.

He was debating whether to go his local mosque that evening, but eventually told his wife he was going, and would be home in time to put their eldest son to bed.

Derbali was in his usual corner at the back of the room, when he saw the gunman come in and raise his weapon toward him.

He was hit with seven bullets, including one that struck his spinal cord. In a second, the life he’d set out for himself and his family made an abrupt turn.

Derbali regularly attends the mosque where he was shot on Jan. 29, 2017. (Julia Page/CBC)

Derbali was in a coma for the next two months. His doctors feared he’d lost most of his cerebral capacities, after surviving four heart attacks.

When he woke up, he was told he’d never walk again.

But « being able to recognize my children and my wife, for the rest of my life, that was the main thing for me, » he said.

His coma was especially hard on his then-eight-year-old son, Ayoub, who was convinced his father was dead.

« He was very upset. So when he saw me back at my home he was very, very happy. »

The wide hallways of his new home allow Derbali to move around easily. (Julia Page/CBC)

Outpouring of support

The soft-spoken 42-year-old can now move freely around the house, purchased thanks to a $400,000 fundraising campaign.

People from around the world answered the call from Dawanet, a Muslim charity, to help his family move out of their Sainte-Foy apartment — which was too cramped and ill-equipped for Derbali’s needs.

The wide hallways and door frames in the new home allow him to move around during the day, from his small desk in his bedroom to the sitting room where he can watch television with his children.

He can also watch them play soccer in the backyard in the summer.

« This solidarity has encouraged me to be more positive, and this is the beautiful thing, » he said.

Grateful for the wave of support he’s received, Derbali refuses to dwell on the act of violence he fell victim to that night. « There is much more goodness than evil on this planet, » Derbali said.

Derbali smiles at his two youngest children, Maryem, 2, and Youssouf, 6. (Submitted by Aymen Derbali)

His home still needs a few more modifications to make it fully adapted to his needs, including an adapted shower and an elevated platform to allow him to go straight to the garage from the kitchen.

But he is able to help in planning all this, now that he can type on his keyboard with two fingers and answer calls on his cellphone, lessening the burden he felt he put on his family, just 12 months before.

« I can plan the work around the house, pay the bills and help my son with his homework. »

He is also there every afternoon to greet his children when they return from school, just a few blocks away.

Second life

Derbali has started sending out resumés  in hope of landing a part-time job, to supplement the income provided by the government’s compensation for victims of crimes.

But his daily routine still takes up a lot of his time. He requires three hours of home care every day, and the bullets that exploded inside his body cause him constant pain.

Nonetheless, he is committed to the humanitarian work he began long before the shooting.

Derbali, who worked as an IT specialist, is now able to type on his computer and hopes to go back to work part-time. (Julia Page/CBC)

He continues to be involved in an orphanage he helped set up in Bolivia and now wants to do more within Quebec City, to foster dialogue between groups that may have been on separate paths for too long.

« We woke up after this tragedy and said ‘We have to be more open to all the communities,' » he said.

He is encouraging Muslim youth to get involved and volunteer for homeless shelters, for example.

« In this way we can fight hate crimes and we can fight ignorance. This is the most important thing, to have concrete actions, » he said.

Derbali has also started giving conferences in high schools to show young men and women the mark hatred left in his life, convinced these face-to-face meetings will leave a much deeper impact than any government initiative.

Derbali sits in the dining room of the new home his family was able to purchase thanks to a fundraising campaign that netted more than $400,000. (Julia Page/CBC)

« You know if we have an open-minded teenager, we don’t have to be afraid for his future. »

The two-year anniversary will be an important milestone for Derbali. So will knowing the fate that awaits the young man he crossed paths with in his place of worship, two years ago.

Convicted gunman Alexandre Bissonette will be sentenced just days after the anniversary, on Feb. 8, at the Quebec City courthouse.

Derbali says that will be another chance to turn the page and focus on the good he has seen emerge from that dark night.

« It’s my second life that is starting. »


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Family of man killed in Quebec mosque shooting will be compensated by province


Khadija Thabti says she can no longer bear to be alone outdoors.

When she hears sirens, she’s immediately brought back to the night of Jan. 29, 2017, when her husband Aboubaker and five others were killed as they prayed in the mosque in Quebec City.

She had a job at a daycare before the shooting, but since then she has had difficulty working with children.

« I’m scared all the time. I have nightmares, » she said on Sunday. « I tried to work, but I stopped. I wasn’t capable. It was very hard. »

Now, Thabti and her two children will receive financial support from the provincial organization that handles requests for compensation from victims of crimes — Indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels (IVAC).

But before being told last week that the government will approve their claim, they had been twice denied.

Their lawyer Marc Bellemare said the fact they had to fight for two years is unacceptable.

« They will live all their lives with this weight, this trauma, » he said at a news conference in Quebec City on Sunday, announcing his client’s legal victory.

« Those delays are not acceptable in Quebec. So I hope that the minister of justice will give instructions to the public servants to accept these cases as soon as possible. »

Now that the family has been officially recognized as victims by IVAC, the three will receive compensation for all psychological treatment deemed necessary by a doctor, reimbursement for lost income since the time of the shooting and a supplemental income for life based on potential loss of earning potential.

Thabti and her son Mohamed said that being recognized as victims will make life easier as they continue to cope with the trauma of losing Aboubaker.

Mohamed Thabti says he is frustrated it took so long for IVAC to recognize that he, his sister and mother are victims of the Quebec mosque shooting. (CBC News)

They now hope that the families of other victims will be afforded the same compensation.

Bellemare said that IVAC « lies to the victims everyday, » by stating in court and on its website that you must demonstrate injury resulting directly from a criminal act.

This case, he said, proves that indirect victims of the mosque shooting must also be compensated.

« They need help, » he said. « The first responsibility of IVAC is to help people. »

Mohamed saw shooter Alexandre Bissonnette at the mosque in the days leading up to the shooting.

When they later saw footage on television of Bissonnette in handcuffs, it further traumatized him, his mother said.

« What really shocked me was when I entered the mosque, there were still traces of blood and bullet holes in the walls, » said Mohamed.

Two days before deadline

With only two days remaining before the two-year window closes for indirect victims of the shooting to apply for compensation, Bellemare is urging anyone who was at the mosque that night, or who had family at the mosque, to come forward.

He said he would help them file the necessary paperwork free of charge.

A spokesperson for Quebec Justice Minister Sonia Lebel told CBC that the minister did not personally intervene in the reversal of Thabti’s status as a victim.

However, the spokesperson added that the government is in the process of making reforms that may include modifications to the law that governs IVAC.

« Our challenge is to evaluate if these funds are used to maximize aid to victims of criminal acts, » they said in a statement.


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Hate crimes unit consulted for investigation after Edmonton mosque visited by men known to police


Edmonton police said their hate crimes unit was called in to help investigate after a prominent and well-attended mosque in the northwest part of the city was visited by a group whose activities are known to police.

A police spokesperson told Global News they could not identify the group being monitored because “groups change names and alliances frequently, so there’s no consistent name they go by.”

The communications director of Al Rashid Mosque said people she works with were very concerned when the men visited.

“There were two suspicious men that came into the mosque [and] we were not sure what they were doing,” Noor Al-Henedy told Global News. “One of them was wearing a toque with the word ‘infidel’ on it in Arabic. We didn’t pay attention at first until our executive director went upstairs.

“They toured the mosque, came upstairs to the women’s section… they were just looking like they were scouting the place and then he (one of the men she called suspicious) went downstairs and went to the bathroom.”

Al-Henedy said the men left when approached by the mosque’s executive director. She said the men joined other members of their group outside and a confrontation unfolded with members of the community. She said one of the people who was part of the group she didn’t know and who was involved in the confrontation streamed the encounter live online.

“The security and safety of everyone that was coming to pray in the mosque was our priority,” she said. “So we called the cops right away to get them to come and evaluate the situation and eliminate any threats that may have happened because we were not really sure what was happening.

“We are entrusted by our community as an organization to make sure that we have the freedom to practise our religion and we wanted to make sure that everybody was in a safe place and nobody was getting harassed.”

Ty Hunt told Global News he was one of a group of five men that went to the mosque so that he could use the bathroom and they could ask questions about Islam. He said it’s hard for him to ask questions of Muslims because “there’s no Muslims at the Yellow Vest rallies” and “it’s hard to run into a Muslim on the street.”

Hunt is the bearded man seen entering the building to use the bathroom, and who was wearing the toque that says “infidel” in Arabic.

“I’ve got a tattoo on my neck that says ‘infidel’ as well… it just means non-believer… in anything,” Hunt said.

“The Christians don’t get offended by it…I’ve gotten more feedback by the Muslims than I have anybody else…. I put it on my neck because it’s time for them to get over it. You’re in Canada, now it’s [time to] integrate into Canada.”

In a phone interview, Hunt told Global News he is a former member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right group that has members that “adhere to extreme right-wing ideology and are not afraid to use violence,” according to a declassified Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report obtained by Global News

READ MORE: Edmonton protesters confront far-right group that CBSA report suggests is ‘not afraid to use violence’

Watch below: (From September 2018) A few blocks away from where thousands of people gathered for an annual Labour Day barbecue in Edmonton, a protest was held against a group known for its far-right views. Kim Smith reports.

Hunt said he left the group and joined another one known as The Clann. He said he is involved in a movement that is opposed to the United Nations because of a threat he said it poses to Canadian sovereignty. He said he supports the Yellow Vest movement and has “questions about Islam.”

READ MORE: UCP nomination candidate turfed in pub night controversy: ‘Polite racist is still racist’

Police said officers showed up at the mosque at around noon but there were no arrests.

Noor Al-Henedy said police also went to the Edmonton Islamic Academy to make sure everyone was safe there.

“We are working with them (police) to make sure such incidents do not happen again,” she said.

READ MORE: Fire at mosque in Edson Saturday night leaves community shaken: RCMP investigating

Premier Rachel Notley took to Twitter to denounce hate on Friday night without directly referencing the mosque incident.

“Hearing that a hate group is openly harassing and terrorizing people in #yeg with racist and homophobic attacks and posters is beyond upsetting,” her tweet read. “This is not who we are.

“There is no room for this kind of hate in the strong, open and optimistic Alberta that inspires me and is our home.”

READ MORE: Edmontonians gather to honour victims of Pittsburgh massacre, support Jewish community

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Canada was pushed up 9 places in a global terror ranking after Quebec mosque shooting: report – National


It took one deadly act to raise Canada nine places in a global terrorism ranking of 163 countries in a report covering 2017 incidents.

The Global Terrorism Index 2018, released on Wednesday, ranked Canada 57th, and much of it had to do with the six people who were killed in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

Coverage of the Quebec mosque shooting on

The report was produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank that works to “develop metrics to analyze peace and to quantify its economic value.”

The institute derived results based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is collected by people at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and the University of Maryland.

Index scores were generated by looking at four factors in a given year: the number of terror incidents, the number of deaths caused by terrorists, the number of terror-caused injuries and the amount of property damage from terror incidents.

Those factors were then weighed with scores between zero and three and a five-year weighted average was applied to them to show the “latent psychological effect of terrorist acts over time.”

Deaths were weighed higher than other factors.

READ MORE: Deadliest mass slayings in recent Canadian history

Canada registered an overall score of 3.527 — a decline of 0.528 from 2016, and of 2.387 from its score in 2002.

The report noted that Canada had six terror-related deaths in 2017, and that all of them came in the Quebec City mosque shooting by a gunman described as a “right-wing extremist.”

However, this characterization has been challenged by at least one psychiatric expert.

The shooter was Alexandre Bissonnette, a Quebec City man who pleaded guilty in March to six counts of first-degree murder and six additional counts of attempted murder.

Alexandre Bissonnette is shown in a photo from his Facebook profile page. Bissonnette was arrested after a shooting at a Quebec City mosque which left six dead and others injured.


Before the shooting, Bissonnette developed what he called an “obsession” with mass shooters.

He developed an interest in the 1999 Columbine shooting when he was 15, and then the 2014 mass shooting close to the University of California, Santa Barbara, in which Elliot Rodger killed six people and hurt 14 others.

Bissonnette would develop suicidal thoughts that evolved into the idea of committing a mass shooting — an idea he became obsessed with.

READ MORE: Inside the mind of a killer — what we now now about Alexandre Bissonnette’s Quebec mosque shooting plot

He also started reading about issues such as Islamist terrorism and immigration, convincing himself that if he shot people at a mosque, he could be protecting his family from terrorist attacks.

Bissonnette’s status as a terrorist has been questioned — a psychiatrist testifying for the Crown argued at a sentencing hearing that Bissonnette is not a terrorist because he didn’t follow a particular ideology.

“The crime was too egotistical to be a terrorist act,” Gilles Chamberland said.

Bissonnette, he said, was seeking fame and power for racist beliefs.

“Was this racist? Totally racist, even if [Bissonnette] doesn’t see it. … It’s clear this was based on something completely false.”

Far-right extremism

Nevertheless, the report shows far-right extremism growing around the world, even as total terrorist incidents decline.

Terrorism-related deaths dropped for the third straight year after they peaked in 2014, the report said, with total deaths (18,814) falling by 27 per cent year over year.

Deaths fell furthest in Iraq, where they dropped from 9,783 to 4,271, for a decline of 56 per cent.

Meanwhile, total deaths from terrorism across Europe fell by 75 per cent, with “significant falls” recorded in Belgium, France and Germany.

A group of firemen leave the site of the Bataclan where a shooting and an hostage situation took place in Paris, France, 14 November 2015.


All of this happened as deaths associated with far-right terrorism grew from three in 2014 to 17 in 2017.

The report noted that far-right groups and individuals caused 66 deaths from terrorism in 113 attacks between 2013 and 2017.

Of those, 17 deaths and 59 attacks happened last year.

There were 30 attacks in the U.S. alone; they killed 16 people.

Most attacks were perpetrated by lone actors who followed far right, anti-Muslim or white nationalist ideologies.

READ MORE: CNN’s Don Lemon calls white men the ‘biggest terror threat’ in America, and data backs him up

The report came just over a month after CNN host Don Lemon said white men were the biggest terror threat in the U.S.

He supported this assertion with various reports, including one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that showed 225 deaths in U.S. incidents that were carried out by domestic violent extremists between Sept. 12, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2016.

Far-right extremists were blamed for 106 of those deaths in 62 separate incidents, while Islamic extremists were blamed for 119 deaths in 23 incidents.

Many of the deaths attributed to Islamist extremists happened in one incident — the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, which killed 50, including the gunman.

Attacks carried out by far-right extremists outnumbered incidents perpetrated by Islamists in 10 out of 15 years, the GAO added.

  • With files from Raquel Fletcher

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Yukon’s 1st mosque a milestone for Canada, founders say


Yukon’s first mosque opened Friday, and leaders say it marks an important milestone for Canada.

Muhammad Javed, president of the Yukon Muslim Society, welcomed a crowd to the mosque’s open house where many in the audience were non-Muslims who stopped by to offer congratulations over coffee.

« Today really is a historic day for the Muslim community of Whitehorse, » said Javed.

Muhammad Javed, president of Yukon Muslim Society, making his speech at the mosque’s open house Friday Sept. 28, 2018. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Javed said the Muslim community began its journey to find a home in 2005, when the Whitehorse United Church welcomed Muslims to use the space to pray. Then in 2009, Javed said they rented a small apartment in the city to use for prayer. 

Now, there is at least one mosque in every province and territory in the country, noted Javed.

« This completes the North. This completes the territories. I call it the Star Trek mosque, » said Hussein ​Guisti, from the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, a small charity that helped build a mosque in Thompson, Man. 

« Congratulations for turning a trucking warehouse into a mosque. Well done, » said Angelique Bernard, the commissioner of Yukon, garnering cheers from the crowd.

The same builder that installed mosques in Inuvik, N.W.T., and Iqaluit began construction on the low, metal-plated trucking warehouse in April.

Fathallah Farajat of Hamilton, Ont., built the mosque, and says it took about four people to renovate the building at a time.

Halla Farajat, centre, supports her father Fathallah Farajat, 2nd to the left, who helped build the mosque in Whitehorse. The Farajat family visited Yukon from Hamilton, Ont., to see Fathallah’s work. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

« It’s done now, everything’s done, » said Farajat, who started his career building custom cabinets and worked his way up to building mosques.

« I’m so happy here. The community’s happy here. »

Farajat says his next project is to work on building the mosque in Yellowknife.

« We’re very proud of my dad, » said Halla Farajat, his daughter, who came to Whitehorse with the family to see her dad’s work.

With files from Philippe Morin.


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