Toronto vigil pays tribute to victims of Orlando shooting
Chris Fox and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, June 12, 2016 12:21PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 12, 2016 11:56PM EDT
LGBT leaders, politicians and members of the public came together Sunday at a candlelight vigil in the heart of the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood to pay tribute to the victims of a mass shooting at an Orlando gay bar that left 50 people dead and dozens more wounded.
“What happened in Orlando happened to all of us,” Premier Kathleen Wynne told the crowd.
She said the shooting answers the question that is sometimes asked as to why Pride activities are still necessary.
She also said that whatever the motive behind the shooting, the suspected gunman does not speak for his religion.
“What we know is that homophobia cannot be fought with Islamophobia,” Wynne said.
Mayor John Tory also spoke at the vigil and sounded a similar note.
“This kind of hate-filled act has no place in the world. Love can conquer all,” Tory said. “It (the massacre) must not be placed at the hands of any particular faith or any particular group. This represents no one, this represents no set of values, this represents no faith.”
The shooting at Pulse Nightclub occurred at around 2 a.m. on Sunday. Though a motive for the shooting has not yet been confirmed, police have said that it is “very likely” that it is a hate crime.
The vigil, organized by the Toronto Sisters community group, was held at Barbara Hall Park on Church Street, and started at 8 p.m. As of 8 p.m., there were more than 1,600 confirmed attendees for the vigil.
Attendees lit candles, chanted and sang together to mark the tragedy.
Speaking with CP24 earlier in the day, Mayor John Tory said his heart goes out to the families of those affected by the Orlando shooting as well as the entire LGBTQ2S community.
"This kind of thing one can't even imagine. It is a tragedy of unbelievable proportions," he said.
In a statement, Pride Toronto said the shooting is painful reminder of the hate the LGBTQ2S community continues to face.
"This tragedy is a painful reminder that our community still faces hate and discrimination. Together we mourn the loss of life, and our hearts and thoughts go to the friends and families of those involved," the statement reads. "As a community, we will together stand united during this painful and difficult time."
In addition to the vigil, the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square was lit up in rainbow colours Sunday night to honour the victims in Orlando.
Pride Toronto reviewing security measures
Speaking with CP24 Sunday, Pride Toronto Executive Director Mathieu Chantelois called it a “dark day” for the LGBT community.
“I’m shocked, I’m sad, I’m revolted,” Chantelois said.
He said the shooting in Orlando is cause for extra vigilance at Pride events elsewhere.
“When you see something like this, you always ask ‘how can we make this place a safer place because this is what Pride is about – creating some safe space for our community to be able to gather together.”
He said Pride Toronto organizers will be meeting with the RCMP and Toronto police Monday morning to review their security plans.
“We will look at the plans that we’ve had in the past together and make sure that our plan is as solid and as robust as possible,” Chantelois said. “We need to make Pride a safe place. We need to make the city a safe place as well.”
He said Pride organizers are always aware that there are people who are hostile to the LGBT community and said that safety measures are “already very solid.”
However he said organizers will nonetheless review their plans in light of the massacre in Orlando.