I’d been on the scene for maybe an hour when a woman looked at me and said, with sadness in her eyes, “This changes everything.” It was a moment I’ll always remember because it is right.
Police tape everywhere, helicopters above, dead bodies on sidewalks, block after block. This is not supposed to be a scene you see on Toronto’s most iconic street.
But what struck me most as I got ready to go live on television this evening was the mood amongst our fellow residents: shocked, saddened, yet resilient.
Our city Toronto, defined by diversity and inclusion — a place that sometimes seems immune from terror. Our city today was shaken to the core.
Horrific attacks, a term used by Canada’s safety minister today, has changed much of the world. But for years, it often felt like as though we were watching it from afar. London Bridge or La Rambla in Barcelona wasn’t the CN Tower or Yonge Street — until now.
We’ve watched on our TV screens as rogue vehicles in foreign cities picked off pedestrians. Many of us said, “Oh I’ve been there,” or “Tragic,” while sitting in the relative safety of one of the most tolerant cities in the world.
On a sunny stretch of road in North York today, that changed.
WATCH: Maple Leafs hold moment of silence to honour victims of the tragic van attack
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be asking ourselves and each other all kinds of questions. Difficult conversations will ensue. Some of us may want to test our commitment to diversity. Certain groups might feel targeted. We may even see people using this attack to further their own agenda.
By the time I got off the air this evening, less than four hours after the lives of at least 10 innocent people were taken, a makeshift memorial had already begun. Without knowing the identities of the victims, their fellow Torontonians had taken to the streets to honour their lives.
WATCH: Memorial setup across street from first scene where van attack on pedestrians in Toronto
Toronto the good, let’s not let prejudice lead to assumptions. In our Toronto, light flushes out darkness, we fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, and we give with our whole heart.
We take care of each other.
This is still the city we love. Right now, we just have to love it even more.