Under a gentle rain at the heart of the Danforth neighbourhood, dozens gathered to remember the two people killed and 13 people injured during a mass shooting a year ago Monday.
The sunset vigil began at 8:51 p.m. at Alexander the Great Parkette near Danforth and Logan avenues, which is where the shooting began last year.
“Who would have imagined that the dynamic, exciting summer night on the Danforth would be lit up with emergency lights and the wonderful music of joy would be drowned out with the sounds of sirens of emergency vehicles,” Toronto Paramedic Services Chaplain Walter Kelly told the audience..
“One year later, our hearts are heavy but our love is strong and our determination to overcome is powerful. Tonight we take back the night.”
The service began with moments of silence as bells rang at St. Barnabas Church, and marked the ages of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon — both of whom died during the shooting.
He also had an important message for those who were injured during the shooting.
“The scars on the bodies will heal before the memories, but those scars also will heal even though they will take a little longer,” he said.
“We know for some of you the road ahead is difficult, but you can see that around you there are people who love you and care about you.”
Kelly commended emergency crews and dispatchers who worked to assist the victims of the shooting.
Shortly before 10 p.m. on July 22, 2018, a gunman began shooting randomly at people enjoying a summer evening in Greektown.
“Today is a sad milestone for the Danforth community and the entire City of Toronto,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement Monday morning. “One year ago, we experienced a senseless mass shooting, which took two young, innocent lives, dramatically upended the lives of 13 others who were injured and forever changed our city.”
WATCH: ‘We will remember them’: Toronto paramedic chaplain
“I try not to think too much of the night that it happened. To me, the more I think about the night, the more hard it is,” Fallon’s sister Quinn told Global News on Sunday.
“It’s definitely hard not having your best friend there anymore.”
Many others, like Danielle Kane, who was out celebrating a friend’s birthday that night, were left with life-changing injuries.
“It’s like a marathon that never ends,” Kane told Global News recently. “It’s like the biggest challenge of your life that just keeps going.”
Tory said events like the vigil planned for Monday evening are vital for healing and showing the city’s resolve.
“A year later, the healing continues for the families who lost loved ones, for the injured and for those who were traumatized by this terrible event,” Tory said. “Yesterday and again tonight, we will gather in their memory and in their honour, in gratitude for the service of our first responders and in solidarity with each other.”
On Sunday afternoon, another ceremony was held in Withrow Park to honour the victims of the shooting. A crowd of around 200 people gathered to mourn the victims and show support for each other.
Last month, the findings of an investigation into the shooting were released to the public. It found that while the shooter Faisal Hussain was mentally unstable, he did not have a clear motive for the attack.
—With files from Andrew Russell and Nick Westoll