Toronto, New York honor Tianjin’s loss
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.