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Toronto's Pride Parade Is Set To Remember The Eight Victims of The Toronto Killer

Toronto Pride is going black to mourn and respect the eight victims of the Toronto killer.

With Pride month right around the corner, many are preparing to party, have fun, and celebrate the ability to be open and free when it comes to sexuality and gender identity.

That said, for people living in Toronto, there will also be an added measure of mourning for the victims of landscaper Bruce McArthur.

Pride volunteers have been asked to wear black as a sign of solidarity. In addition, the final segment of the Pride Parade will have barriers opened up to allow the community to march in silence while wearing black.

"It's one of the ways we want to commemorate the death of eight men in our community," said Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto, to the CBC.

"The one thing that feels celebratory [about Pride] is the colour and the one thing that we're really trying to take away this year is the colour," she added. "Even though we understand that we're celebrating, we also need to deal with some hard truths about the LGBTQ community and the issues of safety that we still suffer.”

So far, eight men have been identified as victims of the serial killer Bruce McArthur. Most of their bodies were discovered in pots located in McArthur’s past construction projects.

Police say that McArthur used dating services to meet up with the gay men. With several, he then held a sexual relationship before he later killed them. A ninth man was even discovered tied up in McArthur’s apartment on the night of his arrest.

That said, members of Toronto’s Gay Village are not happy with the police. Not only are uniformed police not invited to march in the parade for the second year in a row, but many have criticized the authorities for slowly acting on multiple missing persons reports.

After some of the men initially disappeared, friends and family reached out to the police for support. The police did not heed their cries.

It wasn’t until multiple bodies were discovered that the police pulled considerate resources into the case. Now, police say it’s impossible to know how many victims McArthur killed.

All of this has led Chief Mark Saunders, who’s the head of the investigation, to state that he’s launching an independent review into why the police took so long to investigate the disappearances in the Gay Village.

“For Toronto’s LGBTQ community, this has been a very difficult time and I know that many are very upset and many are still grieving,” Saunders said. “They have many questions about what happened and what could have been done differently.”

But some say they already know why the police acted slowly. They say racial-bias was involved.

Most of McArthur’s victims were men of South Asian descent. Some are claiming that police acted slowly on these disappearances because of the race of the victims.

“All the South Asian men that went missing kind of fell by the wayside and nobody paid attention until something happened in the white community,” Toronto community activist and Haran Vijayanathan told the AP.

To counter act any future incidents, Toronto’s Pride Month will also focus on a week-long engagement campaign called Until We Are Safe.

The campaign starting on May 28 will see fifteen organizations working on raising awareness about resources for staying safe.

For instance, the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention (otherwise known as ASAAP) is promoting its email system. In the system, people can send an email with their number and whereabouts whenever they’re going out on a date.

"We wait to hear back from them, when they're back from their trip to say that they're safe," said Haran Vijayanathan, ASAAP's executive director. "If they don't email us then we would call them … and if they don't respond, we would take that information to the police station and say what do you think our next steps are."

Programs like this are to insure that no man will disappear without a timely missing person’s report. This is the least the community can do to make a change in remembrance of the eight men who died before their time.

h/t: CBC, AP