Reflections on Tragedy in Toronto

Standing outside on the sidewalk in front of our office yesterday, Rob made the comment “watching out for white vans?”.

What first struck me as insensitive and gallows humour, it turns out he was seeing that both of us were watching, staring down the sidewalk, literally looking for white vans.

I’ve gone from praying that the van driver wasn’t a religious zealot, that the fringe far right wouldn’t have an act of terrorism to justify their racist and xenophobic views, to being gob-smacked that the dude was an incel, misogynistically driving his van into “Chad’s and Stacy’s”.

I’m still back-pedaling from hoping it wasn’t an act of terrorism, to being able to call it an act of mass murder.  But when you take a step back the result was the same, hundreds of people are affected by the murder of ten people and the injuring of another 13.

This is no different than Marc Lepine’s shooting rampage at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal where 14 women were gunned down in 1989 or the killing of 6 and wounding of 18 at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec by Alexandre Bissonette.

If an act is committed against our population by someone of a certain religious faith, we call it terrorism.  If it is committed by a white Christian against that same population, we uncomfortably hang the label terrorist on the perpetrator.  But what do we call episodically the gunning or running down of, primarily, a group of women?

Why was I distantly affected by the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos, sympathetic to the victims’ families and the survivors and understanding the deeper scarring of my psyche, because hockey is so quintessentially Canadian?  Why was I was horrified by “vanicide” in North York?

I wondered at first if it was because I’m Torontonian.  Before I even knew that the suspicion was that Minassian was acting out his disaffection and misogyny I read in silence searching for the why.

The Humboldt tragedy was capricious and random.  Dude aiming his white van and mowing down a group of people wasn’t.

In many respects I am unqualified to comment.  I have neither the psychiatric nor criminal justice expertise to opine about disaffected and marginalized populations.  I am worried that we’ll have a knee jerk reaction and pander to more extremist views.

All I can do is stand in solidarity with whomever has the moral right to challenge societal misogyny.  And like language that is sexist, racist or any “ist” for that matter, I will challenge it as being unacceptable.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Whether in my profession as an investment and portfolio specialist, or as a citizen of my city, my province and my country, I opt for a balanced approach, choosing not to silence opinions that I don’t share but rather unfollowing, unfriending or unlinking extremist views.  I won’t give credence to those voices by remaining part of their audience.

I’ll add my voice, looking for answers rather than casting aspersions.  I can call for greater road safety so that a Humboldt can’t happen again.

I just don’t know what to call for here.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.


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This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.