Candlelight vigil in Unionville marks loss, suffering in Israel and Palestine

A candlelight vigil for peace, hope and unity will be held at Unionville’s Millennium Bandstand on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., marking the loss and suffering in Israel and Palestine.

The event is organized by the Giving Tree Unionville, led by Shanta Sundarason, who said she decided to host the vigil because there are so many residents in the community hurting from what is happening in Israel and Palestine.

“Many people have family and friends that are caught up in the fighting and people on both sides are living in fear,” she said, “I have felt a level of anger arise within our communities and many have suggested that we need to find a way to come together to share a common dream, a dream for peace and hope for the freedom of all hostages.”

Sundarason hopes people will feel the love and support within the community through the hour of shared prayer and quiet time.

Everyone is welcome but they ask that nobody brings signs unless they are inclusive messages, she said.

When asked if she's worried about people with different opinions clashing at the scene, she said she trusted those choosing to attend do so to share in the hope of peace.

In addition to candles to help light up the space, the organizer also asks anyone wishing to say a prayer of a few words at the vigil to obey certain rules.

“We want to create an atmosphere of empathy, understanding and unity, focusing on the common elements of grief, compassion, reducing suffering, and safety for all involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sundarason added.

Ground rules read as follow:

• Please ensure you show deep respect for the suffering on both sides of the conflict.

• Focus your prayers on the victims, emphasizing empathy and understanding for their pain, regardless of background.

• Express heartfelt compassion for those affected by the conflict, acknowledging the pain and trauma experienced by all parties.

• Refrain from hate speech, incitement, or derogatory comments. The vigil is a place for unity, not division.

• Highlight the shared humanity of Israelis and Palestinians, emphasizing collective pain and the need for healing.

• Convey the deep grief and suffering caused by the conflict and emphasize the need for healing, reconciliation, and prayers for peace and safety for all involved.

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Markham Economist & Sun