John’s Update (April 20)

Dear Neighbours,

This is a year of tragedies. The incomprehensible mass murder of innocent people in Nova Scotia that we are still coming to grips with, the loss of 260 lives from the senseless shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, and the tragedy playing out in long-term care homes in our city and across the country.

In Willowdale this week, our thoughts return to the awful tragedy of April 23, 2018, when 10 people lost their lives and 16 more were injured in an act of violent hate. I have two distinct memories of that time. The first was the sense of immense horror and sadness about what had just happened, steps from the office I worked in, two blocks from my home. The second was the display of human kindness and caring that filled the neighbourhood.

This outpouring of humanity, I thought then as I do now, was as fitting a way as any to honour those who had died. That feeling was captured by We Love Willowdale, a group which came together almost immediately to commemorate the victims and comfort the community.

This year, when we are unable to come together physically, We Love Willowdale and the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition have produced a commemorative video which will be released Thursday evening at 7 p.m. At that time, you’ll be able to find a link to the video in my Thursday newsletter and at

In COVID-19 news, the situation continues to worsen in long-term care homes while there are signs that social distancing has flattened the number of cases among the general population. But this pandemic is not nearly over. Please continue to keep yourself and the rest of us safe by follow the advice of our medical experts.

Today’s music video is the beautiful closing act from Saturday’s Together At Home concert. Performed by Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, John Legend and Lang Lang, “Our Prayer” is a plea for guidance through difficult times. Click here to watch.