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Benefit concert to take place at Danforth Music Hall for victims of shooting

Billy Talent and a collection of other musicians are banding together to perform a concert at the Danforth Music Hall on August 11 in support of the #TorontoStrong fund following the Danforth shooting.

A benefit concert called Toronto Together will feature musicians such as Billy Talent, Pup, City and Colour, and other currently unannounced artists to raise money for the #TorontoStrong fund. The fund was started by the city of Toronto and Toronto Foundation to raise money for those affected by the April 23rd van attack and the July 22nd Danforth shooting.

The concert will also be taking place during Taste of the Danforth festival.

“What has happened in Toronto this summer and what happened on the Danforth a few blocks from our studio, has not only hit close to home, this has hit home,” Billy Talent said in a statement. “All we know is that we can’t just sit here. We don’t know what we want but we want to do something. We want to throw a concert to show the world and more importantly our community that Toronto is a place of love, of community, of kindness and compassion. The violence that has happened here this summer does not represent the majority.”

The Danforth Music Hall is only metres away from where the deadly July 22 shooting took place. 29-year-old gunman Faisal Hussain approached civilians in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood and open-fired, taking the lives of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon.

The Toronto Foundation wrote about how Mayor John Tory and the city of Toronto partnered with their foundation to establish the #TorontoStrong fund, which has gained over $3.5 million in donations for those affected by the van and Danforth attacks. “Serving as the Fund’s pro bono Fund Administrator, former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall is working to disburse the entirety of funds to the victims in a timely fashion. Contributions will continue to be received up to August 31 with final disbursements made by September 30, 2018,” they wrote.

After the funds are distributed to the victims, the volunteer steering committee of the Toronto Foundation will generate further ideas to prevent future violence in the city and “long-term strategies related to city-wide impacts of mass acts of violence.”

Police release names of victims from Danforth shooting

Police released the names of the Danforth shooting suspect and victims following Sunday’s deadly attack.

Reese Fallon was identified as the 18-year-old Julianna Kozis was identified as the 10-year-old, both of whom lost their lives after a gunman open fired in Greektown over this past weekend. Fallon had recently graduated from the Malvern Collegiate Institute and was planning to attend McMaster for nursing.

Kozis, who was a Markham native, will be honored by flags flying half-mast. The mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, released a statement on Twitter saying that “The City of Markham will lower flags in honour of her memory and in remembrance of all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy.”

Police have also identified the shooter as being 29-year-old Faisal Hussain. Hussain was said to be suffering from mental health issues, a concern that was addressed in the statement released by his parents.

“We are at a terrible loss for words but we must speak out to express our deepest condolences to the families who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions,” his family said. “We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.”

“Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end,” the statement continued. “Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.”

A GoFundMe page was created on July 23 by Julie Steel, whose husband taught Fallon at Malvern Collegiate. The page was created “to establish a scholarship fund to be distributed each year to a graduate of Malvern Collegiate entering a nursing program as a way to keep Reese’s memory alive.” Steel wrote that the money will be directly released to Fallon’s family who will then be in charge of the logistics regarding the creation of a scholarship. To date, the page has raised $31,680 of its $50,000 goal.

13 injured, 2 dead in Danforth shooting

Over a dozen people are injured and two victims have died following a Toronto shooting that took place on July 22 at approximately 10:00 p.m. in the Greektown neighbourhood.

An unnamed 29-year-old shooter was armed with a handgun and open fired on pedestrians in Toronto’s popular Danforth and Broadview area. The shooter was also pronounced dead in a nearby alleyway after an altercation with police, though reports have yet to confirm whether he died from police gunfire or if he took his own life.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke with reporters following the attack.

“Approximately 15 people have been hit with gunfire,” Saunders told reporters. “There are 15 in total. One is the alleged suspect, the other 14 are victims. I can tell you that one has succumb to their injuries at this point in time. A young girl is in critical state right now and the other 13 are in hospital and being treated.”

Regarding motive, Saunders told reporters that he’s keeping every option open. “I’m looking at absolutely every possible motive for this. When you have this many people that are struck by gunfire, it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to speculate as well. Once we have a better concrete picture of exactly what happened and what the motivation was behind it, we definitely will be having a further conversation on that.”

He added that he didn’t believe the shooting was random. “I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders also asked any witnesses to come forward, including those who may have dash cam footage.

Mayor Tory then spoke with reporters, saying that he wanted to reiterate a few points from Saunders. “First of all, people should not reach any conclusions because the police themselves have not drawn any conclusions as to exactly what happened here and why,” he said. He added that he also wanted to reiterate Saunders’ call for help from any witnesses who may have seen something.

“Please don’t draw any conclusions, please wait for the police to do their job,” he continued. “They have plenty of police resources here.”

He added that the families of the victims have the city’s thoughts and prayers.

The Danforth shooting comes just three months after Toronto’s deadly van attack. When reporters questioned what Tory had to say to those who were still recovering from the previous attack, he said, “It’s almost inconceivable these kinds of things can happen. We were too used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and we saw them going on in the world around us we thought they didn’t happen here, or couldn’t, or shouldn’t.”

“I can just say to people that they should try to stay calm while the police do their job because we have to figure out what happened here. We don’t know.” he continued. “[…] Please just comfort your fellow Torontonian. These things, you can never brush them away and I’m angry about them. I’m angry when these kinds of things happen in the city and lots of people would be angry about it.”

Tory added that Toronto has a gun problem and that firearms are too readily available to people who aren’t the police. “We clearly have to do more about to because there are too many people who are carrying around guns and using them in whatever manner they use them in whatever connection,” he said. “That’s part of what we shouldn’t conclude, just that there was a gun used. We have a gun problem and I just hope every step is going to be taken by all those who have responsibility.”

Video footage of the shooter opening fire on civilians was posted to Twitter in a four-second clip.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted out as well saying that his heart went out to the victims and thanking the Toronto police for responding so quickly.

Courtney Barnett’s a very needed musician

There’s something to be said for a musician with an incredible onstage presence and something new to bring to the table. With the recent release of her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett is still crushing the music scene.

Nestled in the balcony of the Danforth Music Hall, a girlfriend and I went to go see Barnett perform last night. She’s come to Toronto before, but I was one of the many unfortunate souls in the past to only watch her through someone else’s Instagram story.

Before things went underway, Barnett left the stage to her opener, Vagabon (Lætitia Tamko). I’m sorry to say that the half-hour set was a disappointment. It was pretty obvious that Tamko’s performance left many concertgoers uninterested and the chatter of the music hall was almost as loud as her music. It’s unfortunate that so few people came out to see someone with such a huge voice, and someone who’s making waves in the indie scene. But, she performed a few tunes and headed backstage where everyone waited in anticipation for the main act.

Barnett, on the other hand, is someone to take note of onstage. Her presence and charisma radiate offstage and onto everyone lucky enough to see her. She has this innate ability to mesh mellow tracks like “Depreston” and “Dead Fox” with more amped tunes like “Pedestrian at Best” that bring out the raspy tones in her voice and a rockstar presence. Being able to indulge in such a character only highlights her talent.

Accompanied by only six lights, kept relatively dim throughout half the set, and her band members, Barnett came out in a pair of jeans and t-shirt to show off her low-key attitude she’s best known for. But, it’s her personality and lyrics that tell tales of her modest fame, insecurities, and struggles with confidence; ironically, these personality traits are what make her stand out from the rest.

The first half of her set included songs off her new album and I appreciated how she quickly informed the crowd that “this song is about depression” before jumping right into a track. She doesn’t give you any time to think about what she said or dwell on it, she just gives you a quick description, so it lingers in the back of your mind as she performs and makes the music more powerful and relatable.

When she comes back to town I would recommend going to see her. There’s something to be gained in seeing a musician parade around onstage and shower you with honesty, not only in her person but in her lyrics.

LRT vs. SUBWAY: Here is a map of both proposed extensions

This week saw a flurry of activity around the LRT versus subway debate. What will replace the Scarborough RT?

What you may not know is that the extensions will not follow the same route. Look below to see the routes of both.

Both begin at Kennedy station, currently the eastern terminus of the Bloor/Danforth subway line. The proposed subway extension takes the route further east before meeting up with Danforth and jutting up to Sheppard.

The extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT continues on from the Kennedy station where it is currently slated to end. The extension thakes the LRT along a very similar route at the current Scarborough RT but going further west and eventually curving up to meet Sheppard.

Take a look below, which route best serves the community?


View Poposed subway extension vrs LRT in a larger map