We are stronger together.
Resident of Toronto


It is now a week since the van attack on Yonge Street- a tragedy that is incomprehensible and yet chillingly real. This is not the Toronto I know.

So much has been expressed by many -through their words, their actions, and their presence. We must bear witness to what has happened-the anguish, the grief, the courage, and the compassion that abound. And we must ask the difficult questions about why this occurred.

Who knows exactly what was going through this young man’s head or why he did what he did. The messages reported on social media were disturbing and misogynist to say the least.  We need to reach out to each other and we need to harness the anger and frustration in ways that lay bare a path for fundamental change in the way we relate to each other.

A friend noted that what occurred in Toronto (as it has elsewhere) was one end of a spectrum of violence and injustice that many people everywhere- including women – experience daily. The problem, so pervasive and at some level accepted, has become woven into the fabric of society. The ways it is manifest are varied but include having to put up with a way of relating that can be obnoxious and offensive, whether it’s being treated differently,  intimidated, or on the receiving end of patronizing insults in the guise of a joke. It is time to hold perpetrators to account; it is time to dig below the surface and critically examine the structures and systems that have enabled unacceptable behavior to occur with impunity. There are many who for their own reasons, must remain silent. But for those of us who can, we need to speak out loudly and often if we ever have a hope of changing anything.

It is true that events in Toronto revealed the best in people- ordinary people acted with uncommon heroism.  This is no small thing. It is an act of resistance for people to carry on with their lives and not be ruled by fear.  In reflecting on people`s responses to the tragedy, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl in a CBC interview, observed that we don’t run from- we run to. It is an extraordinary image to carry in our hearts- facing what needs to be faced with courage.

We live in a great city! We live in a safe city! Whether we are confronting tragedy or changing the status quo, let us always run to -together! And let us speak out, naming the problem in order to uproot it- together, especially for those who can’t speak out.  Change won’t happen if we are silent.

We are stronger together.

For those whose lives were ended: Requiescat in pace



2 thoughts on “Tragedy on Yonge Street

  1. Good to receive your latest post Audrey.
    One thing that has been bothering me about the way this ‘happening’ of “violence” is being described is the use of the term “Van Attack”. It was not a “Van Attack” – it is a deliberate and prolonged attack – by a man – a human person, using a van as a his method of attack, on primarily women of all ages, as reported by a range of media sources. I am wondering if others who read your very thoughtful posts have had similar reactions to the news reports. Moreover, the handling of the capture of the man who drove the van was interesting/significant in other ways: Not only in the non-violent way the policemen negotiated the capture of the man who drove the van, which was significant in ways that made national news headlines, but the man who was the perpetrator of the killings seemed to be challenging the policeman to shot him, thus removing his ultimate responsibility for his killing actions of the 8 women an 2 men, and the inuring of many others, whether it be physically, psychologically, spiritually, among others, and using the van as his killing machine.
    Theoretically, this incident highlights how, e.g., by the use of the term “van attack”, we can remove ourselves from the ‘realities’ of the actual actions – the killing – and from who actually does the killings, and with what weapon, and for what purposes. I think this is an interesting demonstration of how knowledge can be socially organized – and for what purposes. Feminist Sociologist Dorothy Smith’ s work highlights these “Conceptual Practices of Power” (e.g., 1990), along with the earlier work by Alfred Schultz (1962) and indeed Foucault (1972; 1982). Australian sociologist, Connell’s (2005) work on masculinities is another source as is that of the British Sociologist, Seidler (1989, 1994).
    Audrey – thanks again for creating and sharing your blogs.-
    I hope you are in good health as this spring season emerges.
    Appreciatively, Margaret .


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