Around 100 people gathered on the steps of Calgary city hall on Wednesday for a vigil to honour the victims of the devastating explosion that tore through Beirut the day before.
"It kills us to not be there to help our loved ones right now," said Alex Halat with the Calgary Lebanese Association. He said family members living as far as 60 kilometres from the explosion felt like their homes might collapse from the shockwave.
The explosion happened when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizer, ignited. At least 135 people were killed, 5,000 others injured and 300,000 displaced from their homes. An investigation into the disaster will focus on possible negligence around the explosive material's storage.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city will be lowering its flags to half mast in solidarity.
"When I saw the first images come to light, basically I fell to the floor, sick to my stomach to see such an event happen," said Mohamed Charanek, Muslim Council of Calgary director.
The blast also destroyed medical supplies and food at the capital city's port, at a time when Lebanon was already in the throes of a financial crisis.
"It was absolutely devastating, to think the country has been in the grips of such an economic downturn with regards to food rations, the inflation, the banking system collapse … this on top of it all is just devastating," said Rsmeya Hammoud with the Calgary Lebanese Association.
Basitah Rafih, who owns Little Lebanon, a restaurant on 17th Avenue, said it's been hard to watch the devastation back home from so far away.
"It's been devastating. We've all been shook. Our whole family is absolutely beside themselves," Rafih told CBC News.
Rafih said one of her employees has family in Beirut.
"She was very afraid. She kept trying to call her kids."
Rafih's employee eventually reached her children. Her son, who owns a cafe on the pier, was hurt by glass in the explosion. His cafe was destroyed and a friend of his who was on his way to the cafe was killed.
Rafih's family lives in northern Lebanon, far from Beirut. But it's seen the effects of the blast, too.
"They've been sending us pictures of clouds of orange smoke that's reaching there, I couldn't believe it," she said.
More than 10,300 Albertans were born in Lebanon, according to Statistics Canada's 2016 census. Of those, more than 4,000 live in Calgary.
"Alberta shares a great friendship with Lebanon. Our province has been home to people of Lebanese heritage for more than a century, and they have played an important part in building today's Alberta," Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.
"To the many Albertans who have family living in Lebanon, we join you in hope that your loved ones are safe. We offer you our thoughts, our prayers and our love."
Canada has announced it will send up to $5 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon.