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'We will not be broken,' Mayor Tory says on Toronto van attack anniversary

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 9:51 pm PDT

FILE: 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 (NEWS 1130) — The second anniversary of the deadly van attack in Toronto is even more difficult this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent shooting rampage in Nova Scotia, Toronto Mayor John Tory said Thursday.

The mayor started a day of virtual commemoration for the 10 people killed and 16 injured on April 23, 2018, when a man drove a rented van down a busy sidewalk on Yonge Street in north Toronto.

“We will not be broken,” Tory said live on YouTube. “Let us take inspiration, both from those we lost, and from the heroes who responded to the tragedy, as we rise to the challenges of today.”

A community group hosted a virtual vigil Thursday night rather than gathering at the site of the attack, and Tory has asked mourners to avoid gathering or placing flowers and other items near the site.

“We are discouraging people from going to the site on north Yonge Street or different sites, just because it does pose a risk to people, in terms of their health given the circumstances we presently face,” Tory explained earlier in the day.

“And I think people can do something just as meaningful by participating in the virtual vigil and, as they say, it’s the thought that counts.”

Shortly after his arrest two years ago, Alek Minassian told police he committed the attack for retribution against society after being shunned by women for years.

The trial has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tory said the city will never forget those who died and were injured that day.

“I’ve spoken to most of those families this week to express our continued grief for them and our solidarity with them on the second anniversary of something that did tragically bring the city together, much as we’re coming together now. It shows the strength of Toronto but it’s also a very dark day in the history of our city,” he said.

Ten lit candles, representing those who died, will be placed in the mayor’s office window to face toward the city hall square, where the flags will be lowered to half-mast and the Toronto sign dimmed to honour the victims.

Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D’Amico, Mary Elizabeth Forsyth, Munir Abdo Habib Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died that day.

“I know that can make it more difficult for some to bear,” Tory said in the video. “That will not stop us from remembering all the lives that were lost on April 23, 2018.”

He said the city is also mourning the loss of life after a shooting rampage in Nova Scotia left 22 people dead.

“This year is especially difficult for many people as we experience as a nation another senseless act of violence and loss of life in our sister province of Nova Scotia,” he said.

“We continue to mourn with the residents Nova Scotia and I want them to know that Toronto is with you during this time and will continue to support you in any way that we can.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also offered condolences to the victims of both attacks.

“Together we mourn and together we heal because just as Canadians were there for each other two years ago, we’re there for each other now,” he said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called on Canadians to dig deep, as they did two years ago.

“In the face of this horrible tragedy, we came together to support one another as a community and as Canadians, standing strong and united in the face of a cowardly act of violence,” he said.

“As I look back on that dark day and the unprecedented times we face now – the recent tragedy of Nova Scotia – I can’t help but think that same strength, that same spirit, will guide us through these difficult times.”