A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — still affected

Toronto’s mayor says a deadly van attack that left the city grappling with grief a year ago also set off a wave of solidarity and support among its residents.

Hours before a ceremony to honour those hurt or killed in the April 23, 2018, attack, John Tory said he hopes the city will show the same strength and heart in the future, and not just in the face of tragedy.

“This unfathomable loss of life left our city in mourning … this was a tragedy the likes of which we’d never seen before,” Tory said Tuesday morning.

“We saw people from all walks of life running to the rescue of those in need and offering to help in the aftermath. We saw people of all faiths gather to mourn and to provide comfort to those who needed it so very badly … We saw our city united against evil and dedicated to healing and to love.”

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — are still affected by what they saw, Tory said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders also commended those who rushed to the aid of strangers at a difficult time.

“Even in our darkest moments, we always remain strong and united,” Ford said in a statement. “We come together, as many will today at vigils across the city. We mourn those we have lost and comfort the families and friends left behind.”

Saunders said the compassion shown in the wake of the attack is “an extraordinary example of who we are as Torontonians.”

READ MORE: Witnesses still struggling one year after deadly Yonge Street van attack in Toronto

Ten people were killed and 16 were injured when a white rental van plowed into pedestrians along busy Yonge Street in the city’s north.

Alek Minassian, 26, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He is set to face trial next February.

Several events were planned Tuesday to remember the incident and pay tribute to the victims and their families.

The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. to coincide with the time of the incident.

The city is also expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what it has dubbed the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created. The city says consultations on the memorials will begin this spring.

Events are also planned elsewhere in the neighbourhood where the attack took place.

The Willowdale community is hosting a moment of silence, an evening vigil and a free dinner, among other events. It is also bringing in trauma counsellors and therapy dogs for those who need support.

Liam Casey and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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