Danforth love notes connect residents after deadly mass shooting

Monica Harding woke up hours after the horrific Danforth shooting with an enormous sense of grief — and a plan to get rid of it.

'I needed to make a connection, because grief can be very isolating,' says Monica Harding

Toronto and Danforth Avenue area residents have been paying their respects to the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting at public vigils, but there's also an effort to heal the neighbourhood online. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Monica Harding says she woke up hours after the horrific Danforth shooting with an enormous sense of grief — and a plan to get rid of it.

She went on Facebook, and asked a community group for any experience, from sweet to silly, that makes them proud of their east-end neighbourhood.

The post, created just over 12 hours after a gunman attacked a Danforth strip of restaurants, killing two and injuring 13, has now attracted more than 100 comments, with many residents thanking Harding for highlighting some good news amid a day of nightmarish headlines.  

"I felt that I needed to make a connection, because grief can be very isolating … people can get lost in it." Harding told CBC Toronto on Tuesday.

Harding, not pictured, says she loves that the Danforth is a place where strangers feel free to talk to one another. She's hoping that doesn't change after the deadly attack. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Her goal, she said, was to stop people from getting to that place, one fond memory at a time. Here are some of the comments her post — now dubbed #Danforthlovenote — generated:

  • Colleen Auld wrote that she and a daughter were riding their normal TTC route when "a woman tapped me on my shoulder and said she just had to let me know she remembers my daughter and I riding the 506 when my daughter was so young (we moved to the area when my daughter was 15 months old - she is now 8 years old) … and said she has loved watching my daughter grow up."
  • Paul Indrigo shared an image of a local street party, and offered to bring Harding a treat to cheer her up. "Will gladly drive my ice cream cart to your front door if needed," he said.
Paul Indrigo shared this image of a neighbourhood block party on a widely-viewed Facebook post about residents' favourite parts of the Danforth. (Paul Indrigo/Facebook)
  • Christine Louise shared a story of losing her phone, then finding it thanks to a group of locals. "I'm a single mom and couldn't afford to replace it. I was crying on the Danforth, and a group of people took me along the strip, asking anyone if they could help, even popping into pawn shops, etc. My phone was located after an hour or two. I was so grateful for these people who wanted to help me," she wrote.
  • Malcolm MacPherson simply wrote: "Harmonica-Man!" Another person shared a video of the wandering harmonica player — a fixture of the area.
  • Jamie Maracle vowed to never move away from a neighbourhood that's been so helpful for her family. "My Mother is elderly and the man who owns her corner store walked her home and shoveled her front in the winter," she wrote.

Harding says the heartfelt responses have been touching, and far beyond the simple messages she thought she might get back.

"What I got instead was an army of people standing up and saying, 'This is our community, we love it,'" she said.

Harding says she's hoping it's proof that the Danforth area won't be torn apart in the wake of the mass shooting.

Vigils continue to grow in the Danforth area. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)


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