Toronto

Orlando nightclub attack: Toronto candelight vigil honours victims

Hundreds of Torontonians came together to shed tears and share hugs at an emotional candlelight vigil for the victims of the mass shooting targeting a gay nightclub in Florida.

Pride Toronto upping security for this month's celebrations after horrific attack

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to mourn those killed in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (CBC)

Hundreds of Torontonians came together to shed tears and share hugs at an emotional candlelight vigil for the victims of the mass shooting targeting a gay nightclub in Florida.

A gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, killing 50 and injuring 53. American authorities said the 29-year-old gunman, who was killed by police, had previously been investigated by the FBI for links to terrorism and may have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the brutal attack.

At the vigil, held in the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood that's serving as the epicentre of Toronto's Pride celebrations this month, many said the attack directly targeted the LBGT community.

"People need a space to come and grieve together," said Francis Gaudreault, head of the Church-Wellesley BIA.

"We're going to keep being who we are and keep living our lives."

Some people who attended the vigil knew the victims of the Orlando attack, organizers said.

Gaudreault said some in attendance knew some of the victims in Florida. In the audience, many cried as they listened to speeches and songs, all dedicated to the victims.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam all spoke at the event.

Mathieu Chantelois told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Monday that Toronto's Pride parade, which takes place on July 3, will be dedicated to those killed in Orlando.

Chantelois described the vigil as wonderful and said it was exactly what the LBGT community needed.

There's just one thing you can do at a time like this, Chantelois said: "love each other." 
Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke to hundreds of Torontonians that gathered for a candlelight vigil in honour of the victims of a mass shooting that targeted a gay nightclub in Florida. 1:28

Chantelois added Pride Toronto organizers are meeting with Toronto police and RCMP officials today to ensure there's enough security in place for this month's celebrations.

There is, however, still a sense of fear.

Chantelois said his mother called him after the attacked and asked him to stop being a public face for the LBGT community, something he vowed not to do.

"My mom was afraid for my life," he said.

"That's a cultural fear that we need to fight against."

A man holding a Canadian flag wipes away a tear at Sunday night's vigil. (CBC)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.