In 2015 my life changed drastically as I stepped out on Toronto Airport one spring afternoon. Those 18 hours of plane ride took me away from home to a country that I barely identified with except that Anne with an “e” had been a Canadian. Chilly winds welcomed me, and while all was immaculate outside, my whole world was in a spin.

Coming from the coastal city of Karachi, at first even a little blustery spring breeze was too much for me to handle. The impressions of Canada being a snowy ice maiden are true as far as the climate is concerned. Winters can be very harsh and unforgiving, yet the warmth and love of Canadians makes it a lot easier to survive.

And since that spring afternoon, when I found myself in a sea of strangers, Canada has been amazingly kind and caring. New immigrants need a lot of support especially if they do not have relations in the country, and as one I have found encouragement everywhere. From newcomer centres to schools and even bus stops, I have found kindness everywhere.

Even as the world morphed into a very discriminating place for Muslim immigrants, Canada continued to be most welcoming and accepting. Until the Quebec City Mosque attack, when suddenly the peaceful Canadian landscape enveloped in a snowy blanket was tainted with the blood of innocent. It was shocking, and as I tried to process the horror, my heart kept telling me that this is not what Canada is. Canada is about caring and respecting others; it is about pitching in and helping out.

Canada is a beautifully sculpted multicultural country with lots of diverse voices and opinions. These many voices have added their share to the Canadian values over centuries. Canada’s cultural history dates back to thousands of years when the first nations arrived here and it kept growing with its communities over time. Every voice is important and unique, together they make one strong nation that refuses terror.

Rising from a terror attack takes strength and the Muslim community of Canada should take this to rally against extremism and prejudice. Messages of love continue to pour in as Canadians stand behind their Muslim fellowmen to overcome this shadow of intolerance and in time they will. Because Canada stands united in the aftermath of this attack as one.