charles rex arbogast/canadian press


Dawson College student Mary Thambiah, left, comforts Farina Latif at a memorial outside the school’s atrium, where Kimveer Gill went on a shooting spree Wednesday.

We were shocked. We were frightened. We were angry. And the feelings haven’t gone away.

Last Wednesday, we were brutally reminded that the unthinkable is not only thinkable, but also happens. When Kimveer Gill, menacing in black, took his guns out of his car in broad daylight, walked purposefully into Montreal’s downtown Dawson College, and shot everyone he could get to before killing himself, he woke us up to yet another horror.

Gill smashed into our national consciousness with our worst fears realized. The awful truth is that we live in a country at peace that somehow still harbours people who seek, admire, and even crave, violence. And that even though our cities may feel safe, there is always the possibility of danger and mindless violence.

What makes a 25-year-old man so uncaring, full of vengeance and hate? What makes him prefer his own death over the possibilities of having a future? And what makes him so arrogant and dehumanized that he feels entitled to destroy other young lives — those of innocent strangers, people who never hurt him or did him any harm?

We are being inundated with theories and speculation. Some say it was his Goth counter-culture that separated him and made him want to embrace the dark side. But the vast majority of Goths, others who are into heavy metal music the likes of which Gill listened to, and those who follow vampire literature, as did Gill, abhor what he did.

Some say it’s our gun culture that creates monsters out of loners. And there’s no doubt that gun violence among young men in Canada is becoming an increasing concern.

We have yet to hear Gill’s full “story” — the sequence of events in his life that brought him through childhood, family pressures, friends or lack thereof, school experiences, his dreams, and his failures.

Yet even when we do, I doubt we’ll have a better understanding of his recent actions. All we know is that he came from a decent family, where his mother thought he was a “good son.” And all we know for certain is that our peace-loving country does not exist in isolation.

There is war in our world. There is violence. There is fury. There are tortured souls and with them sometimes comes danger.

We need to confront what’s going on in our cities and on our streets. We need to be alert to the potentials of what can happen. We cannot walk around scared, looking over our shoulders, for that is no way to live. But we cannot walk along in blissful innocence either.

Schools, hospitals, government buildings, houses of worship and other institutions all need to take better security measures and precautions. Though none of us wish to live behind locked gates and fortified walls, we need to come up with better ways of protecting ourselves and our children.