Thousands of Canadians attend #TorontoStrong vigil for van attack victims
Canadians from all across the Greater Toronto Area attended a vigil at Mel Lastman Square in North York where 10 people died and another 15 injured earlier in the week when a rented van ran down dozens of pedestrians along Yonge St.
Justin Trudeau walks in solidarity with Torontonians
In attendance was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who joined officials from different levels of government, including Governor General Julie Payette, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory for the #TorontoStrong vigil.
Toronto joins other cities in the world like London, Stockholm, Barcelona and New York City, where vehicles were used to attack innocent bystanders.
Victims were members of a vibrant community
10 people died during the attack, with another 15 injured. It was largest mass casualty event in the province’s history.
The victims, ranging from 24 to 94 years old, represented the multicultural community that is North York.
Three South Korean nationals and a Jordanian citizen were among those killed.
Memorials provide community with a place to begin healing
Two memorial sites were started by residents of the area, where members of the community could place flowers and handwritten messages of condolences.
One was at Olive Square Park, near where the first victim was struck at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. Prime Minister Trudeau signed a book of condolences before walking to Mel Lastman Square.
Another was at Mel Lastman Square, the area where the last of the victims were struck.
Roads closed, heavy police presence
The cold and windy evening did not stop thousands of Canadians from coming to join the vigil.
There was a heavy police presence during the vigil, with Yonge Street and ancillary roads closed to traffic.
Police officers on foot and horseback, as well as snipers on the rooftops were deployed to ensure public safety.
A community comes together
Leaders from different religious groups took the stage, offering words of hope and healing for members of the diverse community.
Members of emergency services who responded to the incident, including police officers and paramedics, were recognized for their efforts by a grateful community.
Performances served as a reminder of the community’s resilience and determination, with a poem read by Toronto’s Poet Laureate Ann Michaels, and songs sung by the Toronto Children’s Concert Choir, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.
The evening ended with students from nearby Earl Haig Secondary School & Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts singing O Canada in French.
How to help the victims
Millions have been raised to support victims of the van attack, donating to a GoFundMe campaign.
The City of Toronto has also established the Toronto Strong Fund to coordinate fundraising efforts. To donate to the Toronto Strong Fund, visit torontofoundation.ca/torontostrong.