THE 22ND ANNUAL AIDS CANDLELIGHT VIGIL Part of Pride Week, today (Thursday, June 22), 9 pm, AIDS Memorial, Cawthra Square Park, 519 Church. 416-392-6878, ext 312. Rating: NNNNN
WHO: Helen Rykens, 519 Church Community Centre officer manager and the 519s rep on the AIDS Candlelight Vigil Committee
WHAT WILL HAPPEN? The park will be lit with candles. The names of those who died this year will be read slowly. Some come to the ceremony just to hear that name. Then people will call out the names of those theyre here to honour. Some will whisper and some will shout.
WHAT WILL IT FEEL LIKE:? We want to evoke emotions of grief, emotions of love and emotions of Lets get a cure. Were focused on the politics. The vigil happens before the Parade and all the partying, like a funeral where the service comes first and then the wake and the drinking and celebration.
IS THIS A PERSONAL ISSUE? Ive never counted the number of people I know on the memorial, but its probably 50 or 60. Ive also lost a younger sister and brother through a car accident and cancer. Ive been though grief.
HOW DO YOU PSYCH YOURSELF UP? We have a rehearsal two weeks before so we dont break down when were onstage.
WHAT'S WITH AIDS NUMBERS? In 1996 we added 286 names to the memorial. In 1997 it was 194. In 1999 it went down to 55. This year were adding 26. Its a blessing.
WHO'S YOUR FAVOURITE ACTIVIST?
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE MEMORIAL CARETAKER? I love the site as a place for contemplation. When people lose someone, its a good feeling to be able to tell them, I just sent in the engraving order. You always hope to offer something to those who are grieving. Its a part of my job I really love.
WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN ITS JUST ALL TOO MUCH? Toronto Islands with my bicycle.
WHAT WILL YOU DO AFTER THE CANDLES ARE BLOWN OUT? My friend London, Ontario friend will be there. Ill walk to her hotel, get my bicycle and go home and sleep.