van attack
Members of the community come out to support the victims of the van attack during the #TorontoStrong vigil. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks along Yonge St. with Governor General Julie Payette and Toronto Mayor John Tory on the way to the #TorontoStrong vigil. Photo by @JustinTrudeau

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.

Strangers provide each other comfort at Mel Lastman Square in the North York neighbourhood of Toronto. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

A woman offers a prayer to the victims of the van attack at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

Snipers on the roof keep the peace during the #TorontoStrong vigil at Mel Lastman Square. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

Students from Earl Haig Secondary School & Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts close the program by singing “O Canada”. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

van attack
Members of the Filipino community join the #TorontoStrong vigil to show their support for the victims of the van attack. Photo by @FilipinosInCanada

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.

www.FilipinosInCanada.com