Members of Montreal's Lebanese community came together at downtown's Dorchester Square Wednesday night to commemorate those lost in the explosion in Beirut. The Montreal Facebook event called the vigil "a moment to mourn our tremendous loss as a community and gather the strength we will need to help Beirut rise up." Photos and videos of the event shared with MTL Blog show an emotional scene with over 100 attendees.
"I had mixed emotions being there yesterday," Joyce Abou-Merhi said.
"As much as it was an amazing gesture to be able to mourn all together, being there in the first place was still heartbreaking."
"At some point, it got too hard for me to see members of my community crying, so I left. You feel dead inside, yet we felt like it was necessary to be there all together."
Another attendee, Muriel Nader, echoed that sentiment.
"Most of us feel powerless because we are far from our loved ones who have been affected and this was a way to show them some support and let them know they are in our prayers."
Kenza Bellebouir, who went to the vigil to support her friends, said that it was particularly emotional in light of the multiple crises unfolding in the Mediterranean country.
"It was mostly me listening to them and their stories about how their families were trying to survive this bomb, the political unrest, a pandemic, and an economical crisis... I tried to hold them as they cried."
On social media, Quebec's political leaders offered their condolences and support for the Lebanese community.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante ordered the flags outside city hall to fly at half-mast.
"The images coming to us from Beirut, Lebanon, are terrifying," she wrote on Twitter (translated from French).
"All my thoughts are with those who have been affected in one way or another by this terrible explosion."
Premier Legault called the explosion a "terrible tragedy."
The Canadian Press reports that at least one Montrealer, Nizar Najarian, died as a result of the incident.
The Red Cross is accepting donations to support humanitarian aid to Lebanon.