Canada: Vigil held in Gay Village

About 100 people gathered in the heart of Toronto's Gay Village on Tuesday night to honour Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman and Majeed Kayhan, hours before their alleged killer was set to make a video appearance in a Toronto courtroom.

McArthur is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, and investigators have said they expect to lay more charges against the 66-year-old in the coming days.

Several organizations organized Tuesday's vigil, recognizing the community's need to be with one another.  "For us, collectively, it was about giving voice to both the grief and the healing that were happening, but also recognition that as a community we must come together," said Maura Lawless, executive director of The 519, an LGBTQ community centre.

As much as the vigil provided comfort, it also gave speakers the opportunity to voice what they believe needs to change.

Haran Vijayanathan, the executive director at the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), spoke about his organization's push for internal and external investigations into how police have dealt with missing person cases involving gay and racialized men. "Our community is at risk, and our community is threatened by the system that's meant to protect us," he said. "We just want the system to acknowledge that they truly made a mistake."

"I was grateful for the many different voices that were up there," said Berkha Gupta, the executive director of the LGBT Youth Line who uses the pronoun they. "Even though we're grieving for something today and we know that something's happening in the village ... it's not disconnected from missing and murdered Indigenous women, and it's not disconnected from a lot of the issues that we see everyday." Read more via CBC