Solidarity: Orlando shooting hits home for Cowichan Valley residents

People need to stand together and say acts like the massacre in Orlando, Fla., on June 12 are wrong, according to Robin Rushton.

People need to stand together and say acts like the massacre in Orlando, Fla., on June 12 are wrong, according to Robin Rushton.

Rushton was one of approximately 25 people who attended the raising of the rainbow flag to half mast at Duncan city hall this week to commemorate the 49 people who died, and the other 53 who were injured, after a lone gunman attacked a gay nightclub.

With tears in her eyes, Rushton said she felt it was important to attend Duncan’s memorial to the victims in the Pulse nightclub.

“We need to show that these types of acts won’t be tolerated anymore,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.

Commissioner Stu Allen raised the flag, a symbol to the LGBT community, to half mast while Coun. Sharon Jackson read the names of all the victims of the tragedy and Buddhist teacher Henry Landry said a prayer.

Deputy mayor John Horgan said people were “gathered in grief and solidarity” with the LGBTQ community in the Cowichan Valley.

“They are part of our community and not separate,” Horgan said.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment has no place in the valley either.”

Amanda Hensey, who said she was a member of the local LGBTQ community, was “horrified” by the massacre.

“Places like the Pulse give us sanctuary and a safe place to go,” she said. “People are welcome there, no matter who they are. This hits at the very heart of our community. I came here because I felt that I had to do something to remember the victims in Orlando. It was a hateful, horrible act.”

Christy Greenwood said it “felt right” to be at the ceremony.

“I’m here to honour the victims and their families,” she said.

“Everybody is impacted by violence. I want to show solidarity with those in the community who really care about this.”

Blacksmith Christopher Friis, from Crofton, has come up with his own way to honour the victims of the mass shooting. He’s welding together a flag to honour the LGBTQ community and sell it with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross or other organizations helping the victims.

“This is a way for myself to feel a little bit less powerless [to help] and a little bit more helpful,” he told CHEK TV.