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One year later: Toronto to mark Yonge Street van attack

Last Updated Apr 23, 2019 at 7:00 am PDT

A memorial at Olive Square Park grew into a shrine to the lives lost and wounded in the horrific Toronto van attack on April 23, 2018. (PHOTO: Josef Fazio, CityNews)

TORONTO – One year after the horrific van attack that killed 10 people and injured 16 more, Toronto will mark the anniversary with several vigils and commemorations.

On April 23, 2018, a van drove down the sidewalk on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard, plowing through pedestrians and indiscriminately hitting almost everything in its path. The driver was apprehended by a single officer, Const. Ken Lam, shortly after at Yonge and Sheppard.

In the days that followed, the victims were identified and included a student from South Korea and a man from Jordan:

Ji Hun Kim, 22, of South Korea

So He Chung, 22, of Toronto

Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, of Toronto

Andrea Bradden, 33, of Woodbridge

Chul Min ‘Eddie’ Kang, 45, of Toronto

Beutis Renuka Amarasingha, 45, of Toronto

Dorothy Sewell, 80, of Toronto

Geraldine Brady, 83, of Toronto

Manir Abdo Habib Najjar, 85, of Jordan

Mary Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Forsyth, 94, Toronto

Alek Minassian, 26, of Richmond Hill, is facing 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He will stand trial in January 2020.

Ceremonies planned throughout the day in Toronto

Ceremonies and vigils are planned Tuesday to honour those killed or injured in last year’s deadly van attack.

The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. to coincide with the time of the incident that left 10 dead and 16 injured.

Ahead of the memorials, Mayor John Tory said everyone will be thinking about the innocent lives lost on that day, those injured during the attack, and all of the families of the victims.

“The pain of that awful day continues to be felt by everyone who loves this city,” Tory said at City Hall. “I know that the pain of that day is the sharpest to those who were closest to it, and while a year has passed, that pain remains.”

“This unfathomable loss of life left our city in mourning. We are a strong city, we have endured sadness before, but this was a tragedy the likes of which we’d never seen before.

In the hours before the ceremony, the city is expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what it has dubbed the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created.

The city says consultations on the memorials will begin this spring.

Events are also planned elsewhere in the neighbourhood where the attack took place.

“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,” Premier Doug Ford said 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.”

The Willowdale community is hosting a moment of silence, an evening vigil and a free dinner, among other events.

It is also bringing in trauma counsellors and therapy dogs for those who need support.

The city was gripped with grief in the wake of the attack and more than $4 million was raised in support of the victims and their families.

“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,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said 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.”