Family of Toronto van attack victim donates piano for Mel Lastman Square ahead of memorial ceremony
With more than two weeks to go until the anniversary of the Toronto van attack, one of the victims’ families has donated a piano to be used as part of an upcoming memorial ceremony at Mel Lastman Square.
“Music ties communities together. It’s something that’s very special. The more people that play [the piano], the more love that square will be filled with,” Willowdale MPP Stan Cho told Global News on Monday
“I certainly do hope [residents] play the piano. It’s funny, as soon as we put it down, within I’d say three minutes, there was a young girl — maybe seven or eight years old — already playing it.”
Cho was one of a few volunteers who went to collect the Mason and Risch Ltd. standup piano from the family of Anne Marie D’Amico and bring it to the square. The move-in of the piano was posted on Twitter Sunday evening. D’Amico, who worked at Invesco on Yonge Street, was one of 10 people who died in the 2018 attack.
Sixteen others were also injured after Toronto police said Alek Minassian rented a van and drove it to the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area. Police said the accused drove south on Yonge Street “striking pedestrians on the sidewalk and the roadway with the vehicle.” Minassian eventually pulled over on a side street near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue West and was arrested by Const. Ken Lam.
D’Amico’s family founded the Anne Marie D’Amico Foundation in her honour. On the foundation’s website, D’Amico is remembered as “an inspiring woman who led by example and influenced positive change through her unselfish acts of kindness.”
Meanwhile, Cho said memorial planning work among Willowdale community members has been going on for a few months. While concrete plans for a permanent memorial still need to be formed after community consultations (to begin later this spring), he said music is just one of the ways that have helped community members come together.
“I’m hoping we remember some of the signs that we saw when this tragedy happened, which said, ‘Love over hate.’ That’s the whole point of this is we hope that music reminds us that love is way more powerful emotion than hate and it always wins in the end,” Cho said.
“More than just the music, we have plans to have some artists come in and hopefully decorate the piano with some messages of love and hope. The more people that play it, the better this is going to be.”
A spokesperson for Coun. John Filion told Global News the piano is set to be a temporary installation, but there are conversations about making it permanent.
On April 23, exactly a year after the attack, We Love Willowdale will be holding a day of remembrance and healing. A moment of silence will be held at 1 p.m. followed by commemoration ceremonies at Mel Lastman Square at 1:30 and 6 p.m. There will also be music throughout the afternoon at Mel Lastman Square and Olive Square as well as community dinners in the evening. Residents will also be able to leave messages in chalk. Trauma counsellors and therapy dogs will be at both locations.
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