04/29/2018 13:47 EDT | Updated 04/30/2018 00:59 EDT

Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynne Attend Vigil For Toronto Van Attack Victims

Thousands took part in a walk of "healing and solidarity."

Fred Thornhill / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette sign a book of condolence at memorial on Yonge Street for van attack victims in Toronto on Sunday.

TORONTO - Thousands of mourners attended a vigil in Toronto Sunday evening where religious leaders lit candles, sang songs and laid flowers to remember those killed and injured nearly a week earlier when a van plowed through dozens of pedestrians along a busy street.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Toronto Mayor John Tory all attended the "Toronto Strong" vigil at Mel Lastman Square, near the site of last Monday's attack in the city's north end.

The square echoed with thousands of people singing O Canada as the end of the event drew to a close Sunday night.

Before the vigil, thousands took part in what was billed as a walk of "healing and solidarity," roughly following the route of last Monday's attack that left 10 people dead and more than a dozen injured.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visits a makeshift memorial a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto on Sunday.

One volunteer said around 200 people worked to prepare for tens of thousands of mourners to show up.

Kevin Joachin said volunteering was an opportunity to give back to the community after it suffered through a tragedy.

"It's been a great help so far _ just by the numbers, the support, the encouragement," said Joachin.

"Today's event is a great demonstration, not just to the community here, but to Toronto, that we are strong, and we will move forward together."

Fred Thornhill / Reuters
A sea of flowers decorates Mel Lastman Square in Toronto on Sunday.

Jennifer Ludlow, who attended the march along with her church, had many friends who witnessed the attack and tried to help in the aftermath.

"It's amazing how on this one stretch of street, so many people are connected and affected by it," said Ludlow.

"To come together as a large group really does bring us all together, and shows us there is hope on the other side."

Fred Thornhill / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Julie Payette and Toronto Mayor John Tory walk with crowds down Yonge Street in Toronto to vigil at Mel Lastman Square for van attack victims in Toronto on Sunday

Speakers at Sunday's event included rabbis, an imam and a Buddhist monk.

Many used the event to commend emergency service personnel on their work the day of the incident, including the officer who was able to arrest the suspect without firing his gun.

"In Toronto, in Ontario, in Canada, we don't run away, we run to help others," said Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl of the Beth Tzedec Congregation, the largest synagogue community in Canada.

Frydman-Kohl also referenced other van attacks in cities such as Paris, Beirut and Charlottesville, Virginia.


Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Mourners attend the Toronto van attack vigil.

"Toronto has felt the pain of other places, and those cities now share our horror and hurt," he said.

Before the event, police said uniformed officers would be present and visible at the event to ensure the public remained safe throughout.

"The public needs to get together and start the healing process and somehow relate to each other," said Katrina Arrogante, a police spokeswoman.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Mourners attend the Toronto van attack vigil on Sunday.

"Everybody is affected differently and in how hard they've taken this incident."

Tory tweeted about the event on Saturday, saying it will be a chance for the city to show the world how it responds to tragedy.

Even before the planned events, some gathered at the square to pay tribute, leaving bouquets of flowers, hand-written posters and votive candles in a makeshift memorial.

On Friday, officials released the names of all eight women and two men who were killed in the incident.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Mourners at the vigil for the victims of the Toronto van attack on Sunday.


They ranged in age from 22 to 94, and included a student from South Korea and a man from Jordan.

By Sunday morning, a city-organized fundraiser for the families of those affected had raised more than $1.7 million.

Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder in the incident.

Police say another three attempted murder charges are imminent.

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