Toronto comes together to honour victims of tragic van attack

Apr 23 2019, 7:34 pm

One year ago today, a crisp spring day in Toronto quickly turned into an unforgettable tragedy after the driver of a rental van mounted the sidewalk of Canada’s longest road and ruthlessly plowed down more than two dozen innocent pedestrians.

The carnage stretched more than a kilometre along Yonge Street south of Finch Avenue, lasting nearly 30-minutes, from the first alarm to the arrest of the suspect, 26-year-old Alec Minassian.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 10 innocent individuals, including eight women and two men, who ranged in age from 22 to 94 and included two foreign nationals, a student from Korea and a man from Jordan.

16 others were injured during the attack.

Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He is set to face trial next February.

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On Tuesday, April 23, at 1:30 pm, coinciding with the time of the deadly incident, the city of Toronto will come together at Mel Lastman Square to honour those who lost their lives or were injured during the tragic events.

“On the one-year anniversary of the attack on Yonge Street, the thoughts and prayers of Toronto Police Service members are with the families and friends of those lost to an act of senseless violence. The healing process continues for many members of the public as it does for the Toronto Police Service and First Responders,” said Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders in a statement.

“I encourage anyone who is still experiencing the negative effects from that day to reach out to help, whether it be through their friends and family or through counsellors such as those at Victim Services Toronto. You are not alone in feeling the pain associated with this day.”

“One year ago, terror struck at the very heart of our capital city, our province and our country. In a series of shocking moments of evil, loved ones were lost and lives were shattered forever. This senseless and monstrous attack shook our sense of security and our identity as a free and peaceful society,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.

“But even in our darkest moments, we always remain strong and united. In the face of such tragedy and terror, the people of Canada do what we have always done. We come together, as many will today at vigils across the city. We mourn those we have lost and comfort the families and friends left behind. And we demand that those who commit such cowardly acts of violence be brought to justice.”

van attack

Vigil from the 2018 Van Attack in Toronto, @CatherineTNBTSO/Twitter

Leading up to Tuesday’s ceremony, the city is expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what has been titled the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created.

This spring, the city will launch consultations with survivors, bereaved families and impacted communities on permanent memorials.

Until then, to mark this tragic event and memorialize the victims, the City will be installing temporary signage at both Olive Square Park and Mel Lastman Square during the day on April 23 prior to the commemoration ceremony.

The Willowdale community is also holding a moment of silence, an evening vigil and a free community dinner, among other events on Tuesday.

There will also be trauma care counsellors and therapy dogs available at Olive Square and Mel Lastman Square for those who need additional support.

Ainsley SmithAinsley Smith

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