Since Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down one week ago, killing all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians, Torontonians have been paying their respects at Mel Lastman Square in North York.
It’s become a place where the city gathers to mourn and show support for people devastated by tragedy.
From dozens of candles and photos, handwritten notes and poetry to Persian desserts and a tiny pair of Minnie Mouse shoes, the ever growing memorial is equal parts raw, emotional, touching, and devastating.
These are some of the messages to victims who lived in the Toronto area.
‘I’m sorry we couldn’t hold your hand’
On a candle long burned out, a message is written to Arad Zarei, 18, who was a student at Richmond Green Secondary School in Richmond Hill.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t hold your hand, I’m sorry you were scared. You are so missed at home, in all of your homes … I hope you are somewhere better. We love you! Fly high!”
-Your RGSS parents
‘The entire sky is grieving’
In a message written in Farsi to GTA mother Faezeh ‘Fran’ Falsafi and her two children Dorsa, 17, and Daniel, 8, the author writes “the entire sky is grieving.”
‘She was my best friend’
“She was my best friend,” said Raheleh Fazilat, her voice breaking. She brought a photo of Sheida Shadkhoo the day after the crash, and visits the memorial every other day, smoothing out its edges now soaked through from the rain.
The two met 12 years ago in Toronto at an ESL class, both new to Canada from Iran. Fazilat says they talked every day, including an hour before Flight PS752.
“‘I told her, ‘I’m waiting for you,'” said Fazilat.
Shadkhoo’s funeral in Iran is scheduled for Wednesday, she says.
‘I can never forget your beautiful soul’
In black ink, a brief message is written on a red paper heart, reading, “Dear Darya, I can never forget you or your beautiful soul. Rest in peace.”
Love and condolences
Many messages are simple.
This one, translated from Farsi, sends condolences to the family of Toronto’s Shahrzad Hashemi, who had recently celebrated her 45th birthday, and her daughter Maya Zibaie, 15, a Grade 10 student at Northern Secondary School.
Hashemi’s husband and Zibaie’s father Mahmoud Zibaie described his daughter as “very lovely, well educated” and the pillar of his family.