I had a lot of people ask me for a copy of my speech that I delivered last night at the Guelph vigil in solidarity with the victims and the people impacted by the tragedy in Orlando.
Here they are for you below. I thank you for allowing me a safe place to bring these words forward last night.
I was asked to speak about Healing – represented by the colour orange. It’s my privilege to be here to offer a few words.
On Sunday, like many other parents, I had to try and explain what happened in Orlando to my children.
The thing about it is, as I found out, it’s extremely hard to explain. It’s impossible to make sense of it.
In my struggle to try and explain, I decided it would just be better to gather my family at that moment, to come together, support each other and then we prayed. – and that’s what we’re doing tonight. By coming together, healing can begin.
I want to thank everyone for coming together tonight in solidarity with the people of Orlando, Florida, and with the L G B T Q + community in Guelph and around the world.
These events did not happen in our community, but they affected our community.
Just yesterday, right on this very road I was walking to lunch when someone pulled their vehicle over, hopped out and introduced themselves to me. He explained that he had heard about the vigil happening tonight and wanted me to know that his co-worker, who works right here in Guelph, is the uncle to one of the victims who was murdered in Orlando.
Too often we look at these tragic events on the news and say “Oh that’s awful” but it doesn’t really affect me. It doesn’t really affect the citizens of Guelph.
Well it does. And it did.
On behalf of council we send thoughts and prayers to all who lost loved ones in the shooting and we hope for the recovery and healing of all those who were injured – both physically and mentally.
Our city stands united and together in hopes for a better world – a world of love, peace, acceptance, belonging, safety and security for everyone.
I want to thank Dave Vervoot and Amy Ellard-Gray for organizing this event tonight.
I want to thank all the other speakers who have and will step up to share their thoughts tonight.
I also want to thank and acknowledge the Guelph & Wellington Seniors Association for allowing their flag, which was raised just today at noon, to be removed for tonight’s vigil so the PRIDE flag can fly!
I want to thank all those organizations and groups in our community that support the L G B T Q + community – every day, all year long.
And I want to thank everyone here for coming.
It’s important that we’re together.
It’s important for the L G B T Q + community to know: Guelph is standing with you.
Like I said, like most people, I had a hard time explaining this tragedy to my kids. Like most people, I have more questions than answers. One of the biggest questions is: how do we heal from something like this?
There are many things that we can do.
As individuals, we need to renounce hate. Hate that manifests itself in many ways. Not just bullets from a gun, but words from our mouths and thoughts from our heads.
No more judging, no more snide remarks, no more underhanded jokes. No more pointing fingers at “those people”. I want you to know that to heal, sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness from the very people that you may have hurt, or from the community that you may have hurt.
I ask for forgiveness tonight. I’ve judged, I’ve rolled my eyes, I’ve been someone who didn’t to want accept others in my past because they were “different”. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for healing. Will you forgive? Will you ask for healing? Will you renounce HATE in your life?
And as a community one thing we can do is to stand together. To support each other and re-affirm our faith in a safer, stronger, more loving and peaceful world. A WORLD FREE FROM HATE.
And that’s just what we’re doing tonight.
Thank you for being here to bring about healing. If anyone needs to know what healing looks like, they need not look any further then Guelph and this community that has gathered here tonight.