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June 16, 2016
Sacha Sewhdat

At approximately 10 minutes after midday on Wednesday, Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke opened the University of Toronto’s memorial for the Orlando shooting with a welcome and a pledge to remember the fallen by name.

One by one, speakers stood behind a podium draped in a pride flag, and read aloud the names and ages of the deceased.  The sun and tweeting birds were strangely inconsiderate of the sombre, hushed silence observed by the people gathered below.

The crowd, diverse in age, ethnicity and beliefs, listened respectfully.  Those who shed tears, did so without ostentation. It was a quiet, reserved,  and dignified service.  Amongst furrowed brows and moist eyes, there were also blank stares fixed to the faces of members of a community still reeling, struggling to contextualize these stunning events.

Sexual and gender diversity officer Allison Burgess spoke about the shame of closeted gays being outed in this, the most brutal manner.  Others spoke of the enduring power of love and called on those in attendance to keep their hearts soft in the face of those who might use this tragedy for political gain.  For the hetero-normative in attendance, words of marginalization and otherness and rejection were a chastening reminder that neighbors among us feel unloved by society at large.

As the 24 hour news cycle rolls on, and twitter feeds fill with other news, horrors and tragedies, the struggle to remain present enough to mourn with those who will bear these scars the rest of their lives, persists.  

Tomorrow, another mass shooting may ripple through a different,  equally marginalized group.  Fire may scorch another community. More teenagers living in poverty across this prosperous nation might seek release at the end of a rope.

As we grieve with the mourning and memorialize the recently deceased, we should also remember that their grief will outlive our newsfeed. As the grief of all others of the recent past continues to, as well.

Listen to our interview with Rev. Ralph Carl Wushke by clicking on the link above. 


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