Toronto, victims still healing one month after deadly van attack

Published On May 23, 2018 | By tillanadesai | News

A teddy bear guards the memorial site. (Tillana Desai)

Tillana Desai

A month after a brutal and deadly van attack in Toronto, two memorial sites honoring the victims continue to draw crowds.

A bandaged teddy bear in a pram quietly guards the street as an eerie silence prevails. The flowers are fresh, just like the memories of the attack.

The flames of the candles may have died out, but the scars of the tragedy remain.

While those items will be moved after two weeks, the city will be working on a long-term plan to pay tribute to the victims.

“It’s hard to believe that it has already been a month. It was a sad day indeed and the memorial makes my heart pain,” Sally Young a passerby said.

Toronto Van Attack Memorial. (Tillana Desai)

On April 23, a man rented a white van and barrelled down Yonge Street, killing 10 pedestrians and injuring 16.

Alek Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He remains in custody until his next court appearance on Sept 14.

Young, who often walks past one of the memorial sites, was shocked to know it was going to be removed.

“I feel it is really insensitive that they are moving the memorial from here. The memories of victims lie in this place,” she said.

On Tuesday, Mayor John Tory announced that the memorials would stay at the current locations for another two weeks.

“Efforts will be undertaken to preserve some of the material created by Torontonians which has now become part of the history of this sad chapter,” he said in an interview with City News.

He added that given the scale of the memorials and thousands of contributors involved, there is “broad community investment” in them and how they are decommissioned.

Keeping that in mind, city staff are working with community organizations, individuals and the local councilor to care for and maintain the memorials as well as plan for their future.

Prayers in all languages for the victims. (Tillana Desai)

Some of the material created at the memorials will be preserved and made part of history.

Renuka Amarasingha was among those killed in the attack. She worked at Earl Haig Secondary School near the Mel Lastman Square memorial.

Chaehyun Namkung, a student at the school, remembered Amarasingha as a warm, kind person.

“She had the brightest smile. It was her first day at the cafeteria where she worked. She was a soft and warm-hearted person and my heart goes out to her family and 7-year-old son,” Namkung told Humber News on Wednesday.

One month on, several victims are still recovering. Sunnybrook Hospital said on Wednesday that one person is in a serious condition while four are reportedly out of danger.

Among them is Amaresh Tesfamariam who is continuing to recover.

Her family has set up a GoFund Me page for her needs, just another example of one of the several fundraising sites to help the victims.

According to the Toronto Foundation, the partnership between the city of Toronto and the Foundation raised more than $3 million to help the families of victims and survivors.

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