Orlando nightclub attack: Toronto candelight vigil honours victims
Pride Toronto upping security for this month's celebrations after horrific attack
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."
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.
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."