Monday morning on one of Toronto’s busiest streets, a man drove a rental van into a crowd of pedestrians, killing ten and wounding 15 others. We still don’t know what the motivation was behind this attack. But that’s not important.
What is important is these past few weeks when Saskatchewan was hurting, Ontario and Toronto were there for us. Now it’s our turn to be there for them.
I know Toronto well. I lived in the city for four years as I studied journalism at Ryerson University. Even before then, I’m from a town called Oakville, a bustling suburb of about 250,000 people a mere 30 minute drive from the downtown of Canada’s largest city.
This hits home for me.
Toronto, for all its faults, and for all we like to mock it from afar, is a great city. It’s full of vibrant people living vibrant lives. It’s an intersection of cultures from all around the world. At any hour, of any day, you can get food or hear music or meet someone from dozens of different cultures.
That’s, to me, what makes that city so beautiful.
The part of Toronto attacked is a diverse area. I wouldn’t be surprised if the victims of this senseless act too come from a variety of ethnicities, sexual orientations, and economic brackets.
To see an attack like this happen anywhere in Canada is heartbreaking.
Already, we’ve seen the ugly that comes out after an attack like this. The immediate assumption made by many was Islamic terrorism. Others pointed to immigrants, or refugees. Others blamed the Prime Minister’s welcoming attitude. A tweet identifying the attacker as an angry Muslim spread quickly. A tweet from that same reporter that another witness thought it was a white man didn’t get nearly as much traction. Speculation has abounded. Much of that speculation has been rooted in identity politics, or laced with racism and other forms of intolerance.
There is no place for this kind of fear mongering in Canada.
We do not know the origin of the attacker. We do not know what motivated him. We do not know if it is an act of terrorism, though it does bear similar markers to terrorist-inspired van attacks from elsewhere across the globe.
To speculate, to lay blame at the feet of Syrian refugees, politicians or anyone else at this point is gross. I will not tolerate it. There is no room for that in this discussion.
This was a hateful act. Any act of mass murder is driven by hate. We mustn’t let hate win.
What there is room for is sympathy.
When the Humboldt Broncos bus crashed, the lights on the Toronto sign were changed to green and gold. Sports teams, politicians and others reached out to Saskatchewan to let them know they were there for us.
Now, Saskatchewan, it’s our turn. It’s our turn to stand up for the victims, for the first responders, for the families and for the people of Toronto as they try to recover from a despicable act.
They were there for us. Now we must be there for them.
It’s our turn to stand up for love.
We are all stronger standing together.