Toronto, New York honor Tian­jin’s loss

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By RENA LI in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Toronto ob­served a mo­ment of mourn­ing for vic­tims of the Tian­jin ex­plo­sion, where the Tian­jin As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada (TAC) hosted a fundrais­ing event for the vic­tims on Aug 21.

On the night of Aug 12, two mas­sive ex­plo­sions in a chem­i­cal goods ware­house in Tian­jin killed 123 peo­ple — in­clud­ing 70 fire­fight­ers and seven po­lice­men — and af­fected some 17,000 house­holds, with 692 peo­ple hos­pi­tal­ized and 50 still un­ac­counted for. Of the miss­ing, 34 are fire­fight­ers and four are po­lice of­fi­cers.

“As an im­mi­grant from Tian­jin, it has been heart-wrench­ing to watch ex­plo­sion im­ages and hear first hand sto­ries from my fel­low Tian­jin friends and fam­ily mem­bers,” said Dr Wang Peizhong, founder of TAC, a pro­fes­sor of medicine at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity of New­found­land. “They need as­sis­tance and sup­port to cope with the dis­as­ter, and many Chi­nese im­mi­grants are will­ing to help in our best ca­pac­ity.”

In New York City, Fire Com­mis­sioner Daniel A. Ni­gro of­fered his con­do­lences over the loss of the Tian­jin fire­fight­ers in a state­ment on Aug 22.

“The world has not ex­pe­ri­enced the loss of so many brave fire­fight­ers at a sin­gle in­ci­dent since the World Trade Cen­ter was at­tacked and 343 of New York’s Bravest died, nearly 14 years ago,” he said.

“This is an unimag­in­able loss for Tian­jin, China, and for the many Asian com­mu­ni­ties here in New York City,” Ni­gro said. “On be­half of the 15,000 mem­bers of the FDNY, we of­fer our deep­est sym­pa­thies to the fam­i­lies of the heroic fire­fight­ers who have died and those who re­main miss­ing in Tian­jin.”

The WeChat of TAC was flooded with con­do­lences, worry and anx­i­ety. The board of di­rec­tors held an ur­gent meet­ing late on Aug 12 and de­cided to change its ini­tial plan for TAC’s 10th an­niver­sary to be the Aug 21 fundraiser.

TAC’s plan re­ceived an en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse from the Tian­jin com­mu­nity across Canada. A joint state­ment call­ing for sol­i­dar­ity and do­na­tions was re­leased by more than 10 Tian­jin-re­lated or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing in Toronto, Mon­treal, Cal­gary, Van­cou­ver and Saskatchewan.

Although do­na­tions were vol­un­tary, mem­bers of TAC and oth­ers lined up to make con­tri­bu­tions. Most of the do­na­tions were col­lected through the char­ity auc­tion at the fundraiser.

Xian Xu Ying­min, vice-pres­i­dent of Shenglin Fi­nan­cial Inc, do­nated $4,100; the cou­ple Cai Wei and Jenny Ting con­trib­uted $4,000; Charles Jiang, pres­i­dent of Queen Fi­nan­cial Group, wrote a check for $2,000; Xing Jiyuan, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of TAC, gave $1,700; and Daniel Liu, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Al­liance of Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tions in Van­cou­ver gave $930. The donors bid on the cal­ligra­phies of­fered by Liu Qiang in the auc­tion.

A to­tal of C$25,780 ($19,559) was raised.

“The pro­ceeds will be trans­ferred to the hands of fam­i­lies of vic­tims, mainly for the fire­fight­ers and res­i­dents who lost their lives in the mas­sive ware­house blasts through of­fi­cially char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions in China,” said Dong Min, pres­i­dent of TAC. “

The fundrais­ing ac­count set up by TAC is TD CANADA TRUST with ac­count num­ber 10332-004-5270460.

Paul Welitzkin in New York con­trib­uted to this story.

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