What It Was Like To Call Toronto Home During The Tragic Van Attack

While I was at work, radio hosts started getting word about a van that drove into pedestrians in North York, an area within Toronto, with multiple injuries. My gut sank and I started to feel uneasy.

I was in total shock as to how something like this could happen in my city.

I moved to this city six years ago after graduating university for reasons like many people do; it’s the city of plentiful opportunities. It has given me years of experience in the field I graduated in. I love exploring Toronto and all that it has to offer. The amazing parks and trails, the thrift shops, the bookstores, the incredibly diverse cuisine this city has to offer is unlike anything in Canada. How could this happen to such a great place?

This is the place I call home. This is the place I have always felt safe in.

But until two days ago, that changed. My outlook entirely changed when a man decided to take the lives of innocent people, simply living their lives on a pleasant Monday.

A pleasant day turned into a nightmare that none of us will ever forget. What should have been a celebration for our beloved Maple Leafs having a chance at staying in the NHL playoffs against Boston quickly took a turn for the worse. Although the city was shutting down to give way to a police investigation, now turned memorial, life continued as usual as it could be to the rest of the city.

I was on my way home from work when I noticed my street was blocked off by multiple police, ambulances and fire trucks. My gut sank, again. I thought this must have to do with the event that took place.

I contacted my roommates who live with me trying to place what was happening. My fears turned worse when nothing was shown on the internet or social media about this incident. My roommate quickly saw that there was a bomb squad outside our house exploring the land behind us where there is railways and subway lines under where we live. I contacted my family who became very worried. I thought the worst case scenario– this is some sort of terrorist, they planted something and it has to be related to the incident earlier. 

Although many people had thought the incident was the only thing that day, many other incidents were occurring simultaneously with it. What many people don’t realize is once something major happens, Police are on high alert and are preparing for more tragedies to occur because people would assume they’d get away with breaking the law due to the lack of attention from law enforcement. 

My roommates and I sat in my bedroom petting my roommates cat trying to calm our nerves by keeping each other company. We sat together as news broke that the death total included ten people and multiple other injuries. All of us felt strange, uncomfortable and unsure of what was going on outside. Not only did we share a house but we shared this strange experience together. We continued to sit and wait for news as to what was happening outside.

Thankfully after 3 hours, the bomb squad outside found the package as safe and public safety was not at risk. We were finally safe. Safe until we realized that so many people that day who’s lives weren’t safe, who’s lives were suddenly taken from them. Parents suddenly without a child. A sister suddenly without a brother. Families suddenly broken apart.

Words cannot explain what it feels like right now to be a Torontonian. But i know that we will remain strong, united together.

Unfortunately what made Toronto a target is how massive it is. We have a population of over 2.8 million people. We never have to worry about random acts of gun violence or mass murders here. We’re used to hearing about it from other parts of the world, but we too are not invincible. 

I was not sure how to take my frustration out on what had occurred, like many sickened Canadians. I knew I had to do something. I am a proud Canuck, and we spring to action when our neighbors need us. So I went to the nearest blood donation clinic the next day and donated my blood. The clinic was filled with so many people; companies brought in multiple employees, repeat donors, and first time donors who were anxiously smiling when given their “first time donor” pin.

It wasn’t a large act of kindness considering there’s not much you can do in a time like that, but it had the potential to save a life for anyone in need, and that was gratifying enough. It was the least I could do to try and prevent another tragic death in my city.

This is how Canadians continue on after a tragedy. We hold each other close and help each other out. This is what it means to be a Canadian; to be a Torontonian. And I’ll continue to be #TorontoStrong.

Featured image via Unsplash


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