April 23, 2018 began as a sunny spring day in Willowdale. Hundreds strolled Yonge Street’s sidewalks, visiting stores or out with friends for lunch. None of us will forget where we were when we learned that the beauty of that afternoon had been shattered by an act of violent hate that killed 10 people and injured 16 more.
I am proud to say that our community responded to that hate with an outpouring of kindness, compassion and love. The group We Love Willowdale formed overnight and began planning commemorative gatherings. A vigil in Mel Lastman Square attracted tens of thousands from across the city; a temporary memorial in Olive Square lasted for weeks. Last year, there was another large community vigil, followed by commemorative group meals throughout the community.
This year, when we are unable to gather physically, We Love Willowdale and the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition have come together to create a virtual vigil. It features poetry reading, placing of flowers for those lost and injured, reflections on the tragedy, and a moment of silence. You can see it by going to www.facebook.com/welovewillowdale.
You learn a lot about a community from how it responds to a crisis or tragedy. I have asked for, and received, stories of kindness and generosity in Willowdale as we struggle through COVID-19. Please keep sending the stories for me to include in a future newsletter. And if you don’t know of an act of kindness, create one. More than ever, we need to look after one another.
Today’s music video is Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’s “If I Should Fall Behind.” Click here to watch.
To our Muslim friends, I wish you Ramaden Mubarak.