by Jacob Boon
Several hundred people gathered on a drizzly Monday evening in Halifax to try and prove that love is stronger than hate.
The candlelight vigil on the North Common was held to honour those killed in Orlando this past weekend, in what has become one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
At least 49 people were killed and more were gravely injured when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire with an assault rifle inside Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub.
The horrific incident has drawn together members of the LGBTQI+ community and allies in cities around the world, including vigils held Monday night in Cape Breton and Truro.
The only way to deal with this kind of hate, is to double down on love,” said mayor Mike Savage, addressing the crowd in Halifax. “To let people know that this is not okay. That this is not acceptable. If ever there was a time to build bridges and not walls amongst ourselves, this is the time for that.”
The event was organized by Halifax Pride as a way to mourn those lost in Orlando, but it was also about trying to fight back against a conversation of intolerance, said Pride chair Willem Blois.
That’s a discussion that’s been cropping up repeatedly in the wake of the shooting, and used by many to justify racism, xenophobia and sadistic nationalism.
Earlier in the day, American presidential hopeful Donald Trump used the Orlando attack to justify strict new immigration policies and attack president Barack Obama for being what Trump calls complicit in the mass shooting due to an affinity for radicalized Muslims.
Obama has called the Orlando shooting a “devastating attack on all Americans.” Those words were expanded on at Monday’s rally by US consul general to Halifax Steven Giegerish, himself a member of the LGBT community.
“Really, this is an attack on all open and free societies,” said Giegerish.
In a culmination of the evening's message to celebrate and not succumb to fear, the candlelight vigil ended with several hundred people dancing in the rain.