The North Shore showed it truly is Lynn Valley Strong on Saturday night, with more than 1,000 vehicles driving through Lynn Canyon Park to view a glowing display of love and support for the victims of a random stabbing rampage that shocked the tight-knit community.
The candlelight drive-thru vigil was organized in just four days by the Lynn Valley Lions Club to give the community, left devastated by the violent knife attacks at Lynn Valley Village a week earlier, a safe way to come together and pay their respects to all impacted.
“Everyone needed the ability to come together as a community safely and show their solidarity,” Eric Muira, Lynn Valley Lions Club president, said.
“That really is what it was all about.”
An estimated 1,500 cars drove along the visual route set up along Ross Road, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m, lined with volunteers wearing ‘I Heart LV’ shirts, glowing displays, votives, and acoustic music, along with more than 950 drawings created by hundreds of children from the community.
"[There was] graciousness in traffic etiquette and kindness displayed from our community during the vigil by both participants and those navigating the vigil procession that at one point stretched the entire two kilometres within the park, extending to all of Ross Road and down Mountain Highway to Emery," Muira said.
He said the turnout showed how important it was for “the community to come together in such a difficult time and the strength of the community in supporting the victims.”
“Everyone was amazed by the incredible turnout,” he said. "The outpouring of spontaneous support from the residents around the vigil route by creating light displays, art, and lining their driveways with candles was inspiring, and we felt it was the most touching."
The rows and rows of pictures by students from Lynn Valley, Ross Road, Eastview, Boundary and Upper Lynn elementary schools as well as from Ecole Argyle Secondary were also deeply moving for many viewers, Muira said.
“I think there was a real need from the community to be able to express themselves,” he said. “This was a safe way to allow all the children of Lynn Valley who were deeply affected by this event, to express their feelings and begin the healing process.”Chris Litchford, acting Sgt at Arms for Lynn Valley Legion Branch 114 and fellow Lions member, said he'd never forget the experience.
"The amount of tears I saw while people drove by the flag will be with me forever," he said. "Simply awesome."
Community says 'thank you' for vigil
About 80 volunteers, including members from community churches and local businesses, came together to pull off the drive-thru vigil for the victims.
Members from the community who attended took to the club's Facebook page to thank them for the "incredibly beautiful vigil."
"In these trying times, when it seems so many aren’t playing by the rules, and the world is in so much disorder, it gladdens the heart and soul to see so many coming together in such a beautiful way," wrote Christine Stewart.
"Love, caring, and compassion is here, strong and shining in Lynn Valley."
"It was an amazing, emotional, and moving experience. Thank you so much," added Jan Morcombe.
Sandy Appleby echoed her thanks to everyone involved.
"This was very impactful and so comforting to our community," she wrote on Facebook. "We are so grateful to have such amazing kind-hearted volunteers in Lynn Valley. Thank-you and endless love."
Victims send thanks to community for support and donations
One woman was killed and six others were injured during the attack on March 27 that took place inside and outside the Lynn Valley Village library complex.
The victims have sent thanks to the North Shore community and the wider public as a series of GoFundMe campaigns set up to support them and their families continue to grow.
So far, more than $224,000 has been raised for North Vancouver single mom of three Susanne Till, who remains in hospital recuperating from her injuries. The fundraiser has surpassed its original goal by $120,000.
“Her children have been able to visit her for brief stints,” an update on the GoFundMe page states.
“She is being unbelievably optimistic in light of what her injuries and recovery are looking like at this time. The road to recovery will be extensive but the help that she has been sent and offered has made some of it just a little bit easier for her and her kids.”
A separate GoFundMe campaign was also set up for Emma Henderson, a 22-year-old Simon Fraser University student who suffered extensive injuries to her face and hands in Saturday’s attack and has had to put her studies on hold to focus on healing. The campaign has surpassed its goal of $30,000, and has now tipped over $41,000.
“Emma is still in the process of dealing with RCMP and multiple doctor appointments,” a March 30 update to the GoFundMe page says. “On behalf of Emma and her family, I would like to say a big thank you to the North Shore community for all of your support.”
Sheloah Klausen, an École Argyle Secondary teacher, who is now home and resting after receiving injuries to her hand, neck and back of her head, while using her umbrella to chase off the attacker, also posted to social media saying she was “overwhelmed by all your support and love.”
“I am being called a hero, and I do not feel heroic at all because I couldn’t save her,” she wrote. “The real heroes are the community members who dove in to help -- the off-duty first responders and nurses, the staff at Delany’s and Brown’s who pulled injured people inside and brought towels and napkins, the ordinary people who helped.”
She added that she’d be fine and any donations she receives will be going to either the other five victims or to mental health outreach support programs.
Meanwhile, the "Lynn Valley Victims" GoFundMe organized by Jacquie McCarnan of North Van Cares in response to the outpouring of community concern following the attacks, has now reached $104,752 of its $130,000 goal. The money raised will be split between all the victims and their families to help them receive the "physical, mental and emotional support" they need.
In an update to the campaign page on April 3, McCarnan posted a message she’d received from the daughters of a 78-year-old Lynn Valley man who was also injured while trying to help during the attacks at the library.
The daughters said their father had yelled at the attacker when he heard a woman scream and jumped in to intervene, when the attacker stabbed him in the back, and then face, head and hands.
“He has had a few different surgeries and procedures and we are unsure if he will regain the use of his left eye,” they wrote. “He is in shock that this happened in his community and at his library, where he spends many hours, but assures us he will ‘be OK.' My father and our family wish to thank all the bystanders who may have assisted him, first responders, paramedics and the North Vancouver RCMP.”
Police will not be releasing the names of the other victims. The library reopened to the public on Wednesday (March 31).