By Joel Ceausu on August 6, 2009

I’ve walked by the home a thousand times. I’ve parked in front of it; knelt by its driveway to readjust heavy grocery bags in my hands; stopped my bike to tighten my kids’ helmet; and dragged my children on their sleds over the mounds of snow that lay in front of it.

In a neighbourhood that has seen its share of tragedies – albeit mostly of the règlement de comptes and the occasional corpse-stuffed-in-trunk types – this one has shaken the reserve of Canadians beyond the H1P postal code.

As the Shafia sisters, Zainab, Sahar and Geeti, and Rona Amir Mohammed, lay dead at the bottom of the Kingston locks some 260 km away, kids went on swimming at the pool, running through the sprinklers and playing soccer at Parc Ferland, just steps away from their home. Old men accused each other of cheating at bocce or scopa, while parents and neighbours tended their beautiful lawns and washed their cars with care as the plethora of area daycares led their charges out for walks to the sandbox and swings. Just a typical day in Saint-Léonard.

If the allegations are true – that these deaths were in fact murders perpetrated by the father, mother and brother of the young victims, well there will be volumes to write about our outrage: the barbarism of such practices and the need to help immigrants understand that they – as the Kingston police chief said – have all the freedom and rights of expression of all Canadians.

But what is wrong with us? 

If family members perpetrated these murders in some ghoulish effort to protect some grotesque notion of family honour, what is it about us as Montrealers, Canadians, westerners and democrats that led someone to believe they could do this and get away with it?

What is wrong with our measly and insipid defence of our own values that allows such monsters to cross our thresholds and carry out such a macabre exercise that continues to rise around the world? 

Is it possible that as thousands of Canadian men and women take up arms in one of the planet’s most egregiously failed sates to protect its women and children, one of that unfortunate country’s wealthy expatriates sits in our neighbourhood, nestled against our parks and strip malls, plotting hate crimes against his own flesh and blood? 

The mind boggles!

With the grieving parents inviting the media and indeed the world to witness their unimaginable pain as the sobbing duo bemoaned the tragedy of it all. Now Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed, have been charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. 

If the allegations are false and this was – as has been suggested – a horrific suicide-murder orchestrated by the adult in the group, then our self-righteous persecution of a tragedy-stricken family will be our collective shame. It will be reviewed in law journals, condemned in candle-lit vigils, debated at dinner tables and in journalism classrooms, casting a shadow over our own reputation for generations. 

But if the allegations are true, then any karmic justice that does exist will descend form the ether in a mighty maelstrom upon these miserable creatures. 

If the allegations are true, then shame on a world that values death more than life. 

If the allegations are true, shame on our defence of nihilistic values couched as coffeehouse tolerance. 

If the allegations are true, shame on us because these victims – viewed as unworthy of another breath – are part of our family, and we are more dysfunctional than we thought. 

Will we sacrifice our individual rights to life, freedom from persecution, abuse or death to the namby-pamby notions of multiculturalism? 

Come to Canada. Enjoy full rights as you step off the plane, maintain your value systems and live your life in peace. Hell, knock off your kids if they date out of the tribe. Just do it all in one of two official languages and you’re on the team!

Who needs hockey, jazz and comedy? Are we going to be the honour-killing tourism capital of the world? This isn’t the first such case in Canada in recent years.

What are we going to do about it? The souls of four women found dead in the Kingston Mills locks are waiting for an answer.


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