I am not a Torontonian, but I have been living in Toronto for over a year, and I have been shaken to my roots by the senseless deaths of 10 men and women and the injury of dozens.
The perpetrator of the attack is apparently a young, white man of 25, a psychopath who used to keep to himself, according to the accounts of those who knew him as a student of Seneca College.
According to reports, he drove north to south on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard on a white rented minivan, and brutally plowed down pedestrians on the sidewalk.
It was a balmy spring afternoon after a long and brutal winter, and death came to them suddenly, unexpectedly, in a city that has never witnessed a tragedy of such enormity and of such nature.
I have walked this street myself, and I know the intersections of Finch/Yonge and Sheppard/Yonge where the tragedy occurred, and it never would have come to my mind that something of this sort could happen in Toronto.
It never would have come to my mind that something of this sort could happen in Toronto
So, what is it that led this white guy to smash into innocent bystanders and pedestrians and grind them to death?
On any given day, at any given time, this street, or almost any other street in Toronto, is likely to be peopled by men and women of all complexions and races: Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians, Arabs, Europeans, and South Americans.
My hunch is that most of the dead belong to some of these nations. If that is proved to be true -- and we will find out when the identities are revealed -- then this will go down in history as one of the worst race crimes perpetrated by an individual in Canada.
Or is it just the act of a psychopath who simply wanted to kill?
Torontonians will hold hands, lay flowers, light candles, and if I were there, I would probably join them on the streets to show solidarity. But Toronto will never be the same again -- at least for a very long time.
Shawkat Hussain is a retired professor of English, and a resident of Toronto.