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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Living in Canada, you almost feel as though you're in a fish bowl in comparison to the rest of the world.  As a Canadian, I am often looking through the newspapers, or watching the news on television, seeing all of the horrific events that have taken place over the last couple of years worldwide.  The terrorist attacks on Paris and Nice.  The bombings at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.  The hostage crisis in the coffee shop in Sydney, Australia a couple of years ago.  But living in Canada, I admit that at times I have felt as though we were insulated from all of those horrible tragedies.  I, like so many of my fellow Canadians, thought that those events couldn't possibly happen in a country as friendly and warm-hearted as Canada.

At least, I felt that way until 1:27 p.m., on April 23, 2018.

That was the moment in which a white van sped through one of Toronto's busiest streets and purposely mowed down pedestrians at three major points of the street before he was stopped by police.

Ten people lost their lives that day.  At least fourteen were wounded.  And for hundreds of people who happened to be in the vicinity of Yonge and Finch Streets in Toronto, as well as Mel Lastman Square, they were witness to an event so shocking that I suspect that many of them won't forget what they saw for a very long time...if ever.

For the paramedics on the scene to take the injured to the hospitals, to pedestrians on the streets calling 911 and administering first aid to the wounded, to the peaceful manner in which the perpetrator was arrested.  Let's just say that there was no shortage of heroes that day.  But among those were millions of people all across Ontario, trying to make sense over what just happened.

It's true what people say.  You never think anything so tragic will happen in your own backyard and when it does, you are completely caught off guard.  Just last week, the top story in Toronto was the CN Tower being forced to close because of melting ice falling from the top of it.  To go from that to this...that would be jarring for anybody.

I know that when it comes down to it, I certainly didn't expect anything like this to happen in Toronto.  It's only a four hour drive from my area to Toronto.  I've visited the city of Toronto a great many times - the last time being just a few years ago.  And by all accounts, Toronto is a wonderful city.  It's way too expensive for me to live there, but whenever I have visited there, it was always a good experience.

Toronto has always been one of the most multicultural cities in Canada, if not the world.  It is a living, breathing mozaic of different cultures and backgrounds coming together to form a huge city built on a foundation of love and understanding. 

I guess that's why I am still in disbelief that this happened. 

Now, we've certainly seen cases of this happening all over the world, and certainly every nation has their own coping measures with how to process their grief. 

This is how we do it in Canada.

On the very street where ten people lost their lives, makeshift memorials have popped up, with people from all over Ontario coming down to pay tribute to those who fell.  Gigantic poster boards with signatures and messages of compassion line the street.  So many flowers of various colours have popped up along the street.  It is very reminiscent of what took place in Saskatchewan a couple of weeks ago when the Humboldt Broncos were involved in that bus crash that claimed the lives of half of its team.  And it's a testament of just how strong of a community Toronto is, with its citizens leaning on each other to get through it as best they can.

I've also learned that Toronto is resilient and refuses to back down and cower when times are tough.  Even though a hockey game was scheduled the same night that this took place, the game was held as scheduled.  And I have to think that because of the strength of Torontonians and the resolve of the hometown hockey spirit that the Toronto Maple Leafs are on their way to Game 7 against the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

And I think that whether you live in the heart of Toronto, or several hundred kilometers away, this tragedy has impacted so many Canadians.  While our bubble of protection has sprung a leak, I don't think that we should live our lives in fear either. 

Toronto will get through this.  The entire eyes of the world are now upon them...and I'm sure that for many of those eyes looking at this unfold...they know exactly what it means when people say that they are #TorontoStrong.

Stay strong, Toronto.  We're all there for you.

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