Sunday, 10 June 2018

Naming and Remembering

“Words are the source of all power.
And names are more than just a collection of letters.”
- Rick Riordan, American Author

On Monday, April 23, Toronto was attacked. Just before 1:30 pm on a sunny afternoon, an angry young man drove his van up onto a sidewalk and started to mow people down. The rampage along Yonge Street south of Finch Avenue ended seven minutes later. Ten people were killed; sixteen were injured; an entire city was traumatized.

Suddenly, the van and truck attacks that Torontonians had read about in London, Barcelona, Muenster, Paris, Berlin, Nice, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Manhattan, Charlottesville, Columbus, and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu had landed home with a sickening thud. Alas, this wonderful city was not immune from the ravages of the 21st century.

The city came together magnificently – stories of heroism and generosity soon emerged, as did the stacks of flowers and makeshift shrines along the van’s 2.2 km trajectory.

And now, seven weeks later, the flowers and shrines have gone and a casual Yonge Street walker would not know that anything had happened. But it did, and the people whose lives were overturned that day will take a long time to heal.

As soon as I heard about the attack, I knew that I had to visit the site of the attack and walk that 2.2 km path myself. Call it an act of reclamation and healing. My way of paying respects. My way of adding a voice to the mending process.

I waited two weeks before visiting. These five photos flow from that visit. I’ve included the names of the ten people who died on April 23, two per photo. Their names are a cross section of Toronto’s wondrous diversity. In naming them and remembering them, I am striving – in a very small but concrete way – to honour their lives.

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