In 1982, the Mayor of Hiroshima created the Mayors for Peace program, which promotes the abolition of nuclear weapons and the supports the peace movement.
Since April 1983, Toronto has teamed up with 6,206 other cities internationally in over 160 countries to create the Mayors for Peace initiative.
Mayor Rob Ford was not in attendance, although mayoral candidates Karen Stintz, Olivia Chow and David Soknacki were.
One of the survivors of the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima, Setsuko Thurlow spoke to the crowd. On stage, she brought two yellow banners that were covered with Japanese writing.
“These contain 351 names of my schoolmates in grade 7 and grade 8 who perished in the bombings of Hiroshima,” she said.
Thurlow said that whenever she speaks about Hiroshima, she brings it with her to emphasize the humanitarian impact and consequences of nuclear weapons.
She pointed out to the audience that, “Every name represents a real human being with youth, liveliness, intelligence and innocence, who were wiped away from the face of this planet with one stroke on an indiscriminate, inhumane and immoral weapon of mass destruction.”
The modern day combined arsenal of the nine states with nuclear weapons totals over 16,000 warheads.
Several, which are much more powerful than the ones that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of the existing nuclear weapons, 5,000 are on high alert and are able to be used at a moments notice.
Cesar Jaramillo, who’s a program officer at Project Ploughshares, an organization has a goal of building a secure world without war, also spoke to the audience as the daylight began to dim.
“There must be a global legal ban on the development, possession and testing of nuclear weapons. There is no other way to rid the world of the most destructive weapon system ever made,” Jaramillo said.
He emphasized that nuclear weapons have no place on Earth.
“To be absolutely clear: the main problem with the existence of nuclear weapons is the existence of nuclear weapons.”
While the mood at the event was somber, he also said that the day provides hope, “Because the push for a ban on nuclear weapons is growing every day.”
Performances by The Yakudo Traditional Japanese Drummers and The Toronto Raging Grannies – who sung songs with satirical lyrics, while dressed in flower hats – ensued.
Next, as the sun went down, the crowd walked towards the reflecting pool at Nathan Phillips Square, where with Suzanne Glaser playing the harp and singing in the background, people placed lanterns into the water and watched the lanterns float away as a symbol of peace and as a remembrance of those lost.
Photos by: Luke Galati