Before the crowds came, before candles were lit and flags held aloft, Chad Walters had a sombre task.
He checked his mobile phone again, so many times he has lost count, to see if the city of Orlando has updated the list of its dead, victims of the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.
“These are their names,” said Walters, motioning to eight names written in bold black letters on white boards tucked under the worn stone steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “We keep on hearing the killer’s name, but it’s important to say people’s names.”
During the candlelight vigil, which started at 8 p.m., organizers recited the names and ages of the identified victims in a Florida nightclub shooting as a sombre crowd of about 500, carrying candles and placards, bowed their heads and repeated the names.
The youngest on the list was Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20; the oldest, Kimberly Morris, 37. Scattered across the broad staircase, blank sheets for the names to come.
At least 50 people were killed after a gunman, armed with an assault-style rifle and a handgun, entered Pulse, a popular gay nightclub. Dozens more were injured. The gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was killed in a gunfight after an hours-long siege.
The attack — which happened on the same day as Nanaimo’s first Pride Parade and the day after Quesnel’s second parade — doesn’t roll back progress made in LGBTQ rights over the years, said Jernigan, but “what this does is highlight the fact there is still hate out there.”
Dave DeCarlo, 62, got up Sunday morning with plans to go to Italian Day on Commercial Drive, but instead sat stoic on a Davie Street bench in the West End, not wanting to do anything festive.
“It does help to talk about it,” he said sadly. “This is just horrendous, it is a stone wall all over again.”