Eight names written on an altar drew hundreds to an Edmonton monastery Sunday morning. Mourners knelt to offer prayers and food in the memory of the victims of last week’s mass shooting, as well as the man responsible for the killings.
“This is our Vietnamese tradition — to offer the food to symbolize our care and our love, to pretend they are still with us today,” said Abbot Phap Hoa, who led prayers at the Truc Lam Monastery.
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Most of the mourners were from Edmonton's Vietnamese community, which was rocked by the shootings that left five adults and two children dead at opposite ends of the city.
Last week, fifty-three-year-old Phu Lam shot his wife, Thuy Tien Truong, in her home. He also killed Truong’s parents and her sister, as well as his wife’s eight-year-old son and three-year-old niece.
Lam then travelled to southwest Edmonton and killed Cyndi Duong, 37, before travelling to a restaurant in Fort Saskatchewan, where he died of an apparent suicide.
Standing before the crowd of mourners Sunday, Hoa spoke of the need for forgiveness and understanding in the face of the slayings. The killer’s name was included on the altar and in the prayers to encourage that forgiveness.
“We do not push anyone away … Why do they hurt us? Because they have so much pain, so many problems inside,” Hoa said.
“If we are able to accept them, then that is the only way to relieve and release them.”
Hoa said the service was needed to help the community deal with the loss and to begin to heal spiritually.
Fundraiser to pay for funeral costs
Members of the victims’ families were also among those gathered Sunday.
Nga Ho, a volunteer at the monastery, hoped the service would bring some amount of comfort to those who were dealing with the loss.
“We pray for them to be in peace,” she said. “We try to let them know the lesson, try to forgive. Because if you continue with that, it goes to the next generation and the next generation.”
The monastery is also taking donations to help pay for funeral costs. A funeral will be held for Duong Monday, while services for the rest of the victims are scheduled for Tuesday.