1 month after Toronto van attack, 'scars are very deep' but healing continues
On April 23, 10 people were killed and 16 were injured after a driver plowed into pedestrians in Toronto
A month after a driver in a rented white van barrelled down Yonge Street, killing 10 pedestrians and injuring 16, the two memorial sites honouring the victims remain in place and continue to draw crowds.
"It's amazing that a month's gone by. I think that's tough to believe," said David Mousavi. "The scars are very deep."
Mousavi lives in a building just behind the the larger memorial site near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue and he said people are there every day and well into the night.
"Our hope is that after the 23rd we don't forget about the people that lost their lives. We don't forget about the fact that a lot of people need help and we need to do everything we can as a community to come together," he said.
On Monday, high school students Kalen Chen and Yuginj Chen visited the site to pray for the victims, especially single mother Renuka Amarasingha, who died that day.
"That was her first day working in our school. We feel really sorry," said Kalen Chen, a student at Earl Haig Secondary School.
The school is not far from the memorial at Mel Lastman Square.
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The flowers, cards and pictures that adorn the two memorial sites will remain for the next two weeks, according to Mayor John Tory.
When that period ends, "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," Tory added.
The city will also consult with the public and councillors on a more long term plan to pay tribute to the victims.
But now that a month has gone by, Mayor John Tory said it was most important "to be in touch again with the affected individuals and families, to ensure that they are seeing their needs addressed to the greatest possible extent, as they try to heal."
Several people injured that day are still recovering in hospital.
According to Sunnybrook Hospital one person is in serious condition, two people are in fair condition, and two people are in good condition.
Amaresh Tesfamariam, who remains in hospital, is one of three victims identified as being members of CUPE.
In a news release, the union said Tesfamariam worked as a registered practical nurse at Fudger House, a long-term care facility operated by the city.
"You hear about these kind of attacks that happen on the news at the time. When you're in the situation ... it's just very sobering," said Tesfamariam's nephew Haben Tesfamariam just days after the attack.
He described his aunt as a loving person who has dedicated her life to nursing and helping others.
"We're just raising money and doing all that we can to help her in her time of need," he said.
The family set up a GoFund Me page for her needs. It's one of several fundraising sites to help the victims. including the #TorontoStrong Fund.
The partnership between the city of Toronto and the Toronto Foundation has raised more than $3 million to help the families of the deceased victims and the survivors.
"Some funds have been distributed to the families to assist them and there is an advisory committee meeting to decide how to deal with the rest of it in the near future," said Tory.
While the city continues to grapple with how to honour the victims and help their families, the man accused of going on a killing spree April 23 remains in custody.
Alek Minassian has now been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.
Police accuse the 25-year-old of renting a white cargo van and targeting pedestrians along the Yonge Street sidewalk that day.
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Moments before the attack Minassian is alleged to have posted a cryptic message on Facebook referring to an "incel rebellion."
"incel" is a reference to a group of men online who have labelled themselves involuntarily celibate because women won't have sex with them.
Facebook deleted Minassian's account shortly after the attack but the post is part of the police investigation.
Minassian's next court appearance is scheduled for Sept 14.