September 23, 2020

BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND

On one of the coldest nights of the year so far, people with warm hearts came together at Waterloo Town Square to honour the victims of December’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

University of Waterloo student, Sukriti Nagpal, began planning the candlelight vigil almost immediately after hearing the news of the tragedy, and on Jan. 22, community members joined her to light candles in remembrance of the 20 children and six staff members who lost their lives.

Despite the extremely cold weather, Nagpal was pleased with the turnout.

“It was very meaningful, because it was obvious that this meant quite a bit to these people for them to come out on such an unbearably cold night,” she said.

“It added a lot of optimism to the event and showed that people truly cared,” Nagpal added. “You could feel the support radiating from these people.”

In addition to honouring the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Nagpal’s hope was to bring a community together.

“Our society is starting to become very self-involved, and the sense of community seems to be disappearing,” she said. “The vigil was in hopes that the Kitchener-Waterloo community would come together for the Newtown community, because people are mourning and they need our support.”

University of Waterloo student, Arpan Mukhopadhyay, showed his support by bearing the nearly -30 C weather.

“Things like this (the shooting) shouldn’t happen,” he said.

“I hope the government becomes more cautious about gun violence. That is all we wish.”

Had it not been for the weather, Nagpal believes more people would have attended. Still, she was happy that a lot of people were aware of the event.

“I think the fact that my team and I went up to so many people all over K-W made people think about the shooting and the victims, and that’s good, because the victims’ families really just need a few minutes of someone thinking about them,” she said.

Candles for the vigil were donated by local churches and community members. Cards were also given to Nagpal, who will personally mail them to Newtown along with photos from the vigil.

“No one should have to witness such violence,” said Nagpal. “And the children who saw their friends die in front of their own eyes need our support. The families who lost their loved ones need our support. And had this been a tragedy that occurred in our neighbourhood, I’m sure so would we.”