DOWNTOWN VIGIL: Crowd gathers to hoist Pride flag, mourn Orlando losses

Shannon Ferguson

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Justice Building on Pitt Street was vibrant with colour on Friday but the tone was wrought with emotion at a public vigil held to remember and honour the victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse Nightclub.

The Cornwall vigil allowed for people to mourn the lives lost in the mass-shooting tragedy and express unity amongst the pride community within the city. Before the flag was raised to half-mast, Coun. Elaine MacDonald and former pride member Lori Taylor read out each of the 49 victims’ names and ages to a silenced and emotional crowd.

Many city officials, including Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy, were in attendance at the Cornwall vigil.

“We’ve flown the pride flag before but we felt a sense of urgency to do it this week because of the Orlando events. We felt that to have a public vigil allows people to share, express, and honour,” said Coun. Bernadette Clement.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12 a lone American-born gunman pledging allegiance to ISIS entered the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Armed with two firearms, he held those inside captive for hours, killing 49 people and injuring 53, before he was shot and killed by police.

The mood changed from sombre to hopeful as the vigil continued and the stage was turned over the public in an open mic forum with people coming forward to express their solidarity with the LGBT community, vowing to bring pride back to Cornwall and reinvigorating the vitality that still surrounds the group.

MacDonald was pleased with the energy brought forth.

“They’re going to get active again and I think it’s important they do so because otherwise we can’t turn the public spaces over to those who aren’t on side,” she said.

The crowd of over 100 people listened intently to speeches throughout the vigil that echoed each other, calling for an end to hate and a bigger focus on love.

Clement said: “Cornwall is a progressive community and you get a real sense that people are moving forward and are open and that people care.”

The caring was evident as voices joined in unison, singing songs that represented both the victims in Orlando and the LGBT community in Cornwall.

With the pride flag waving at half-mast it is a reminder of lost lives as well as a refreshed energy surrounding Cornwall’s Pride community. 

Share this article