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Vancouver vigil set to honour Beirut blast victims

Last Updated Aug 8, 2020 at 3:19 pm PST

File: Vancouver's Lebanese community comes together for vigil on Aug. 5 to honour victims of Beirut explosion. (Courtesy Isabelle Raghem @IsabelleRaghem)

A vigil to mourn victims and support those affected by the Beirut Explosion will take place Saturday night

The vigil starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery

An organizer says he is hoping people will come support one another for this 'diversity-friendly non-political event'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 113) — A vigil to mourn the victims of the explosion in Beirut this week is going ahead Saturday evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Local members of the Lebanese community and supporters are expected to gather in solidarity with the people of Lebanon.

The Aug. 4 explosion of a warehouse in the Port of Beirut has left at least 150 people dead and thousands injured. More than 300,000 people have lost their homes.

Vigil organizer Leslie Benisz says he hopes everyone can come together to share prayers and songs.

“I think what’s most important right now is we need to be positive. We need to support one another and look at how we’re all in this together, and not point fingers and blame.”

The vigil will start at 7:00 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, people are being asked to wear masks, and hand sanitizer will be available.

Hello again. I've received confirmation that members of Vancouver City Council will be attending the candlelight vigil…

Posted by Leslie Benisz on Friday, August 7, 2020


Canada has ‘stepped up’

Benisz tells NEWS 1130, he believes Canadians have “stepped up” in response to help those impacted by the devastating blast.

“It’s kind of profound that it often takes a big tragedy for people to recognize how much we have in common and for us to really come together and forget whatever differences of our opinions or differences we have, and really come together as one community, to really help one another,” he says.

To represent togetherness, Benisz says he will be handing out flags from different counties.

“I want people to wave them and show the whole world is willing to come around and help out Lebanon at this time, regardless of where we are, what we believe in.”

Earlier in the day, the federal government announced it will match all individual donations from Canadians to humanitarian relief efforts in Lebanon.

Donations made by Canadians before Aug. 24 to the Humanitarian Coalition — a group of 12 established aid organizations working on the ground – will be matched by the federal government, up to a maximum of $2 million.

This matching fund adds to $5 million in emergency aid pledged by Ottawa earlier this week.

According to International Development Minister Karina Gould, Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to independent organizations — not the Lebanese government —  to ensure the assistance goes to those in need.

– With files from The Canadian Press