On October 1, 2017, two males in their 20s were shot and killed outside of a busy Toronto nightclub. Tyler McLean was one of the victims. On top of families of the gun-violence victims dealing with unbearable grief, they have to endure the painful years of legal meetings, weekly court appearances and months of preliminary hearings and trials, all of which take place during regular work hours.
Born out of heartbreak, friends of the victims have decided to come together with the arts community to create a charity event to support families affected by gun violence in Canada. The Tyler Effect’s charity event will see 100% of the proceeds donated to the Victim’s Justice Fund (VJF) to support Ontario Victim Services.
Tori Piccin had known Tyler since Grade 1 and throughout her life, he was an important and special person to her. “After learning of his death, it was incredibly difficult to accept that after making 20 years of memories with someone, there wouldn’t be any more,” said Piccin in our interview. “I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this – Tyler was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Tyler touched so many people in Toronto, and I wanted to keep his memory alive in some way.”
This is how Tori came up with the idea of a charity event. “I wanted to create a community that provided a way of people to channel all the sadness into something positive, while also celebrating the things that Tyler loved the most: the city, and the music, dance and art scenes that it cultivated. The name ‘The Tyler Effect’ came naturally to me – the community of people who are coming together are all linked in some way through knowing Tyler.”
We had a chance to ask Piccin more about this incredible event:
Tell us about some of the acts/artists who are involved and how they got involved?
Tyler truly loved the city, and especially the music, dance and art communities it cultivated, which is why The Tyler Effect focuses on celebrating these communities. At the event this Friday, there will be 25 art pieces by local artists on display, some of Tyler’s friends, but many are just awesome people who wanted to get involved and support our cause. A few artists took it a step further – Katrina Canedo (@Kat_Cee) offered to do a live paint performance and have her final piece auctioned off, and Joelle Dufour (@ArtByJDu4) painted a brand new pop art-style piece of Tyler – it’s absolutely beautiful. We also have Tyler’s friend Chris Chew (@Chewiosity) doing caricature drawings of guests all evening and another friend, Caitlin McKay (@c8mk_design), who created a really special, interactive art installation.
For the music, 3 of Tyler’s close friends are honoured to be performing:
- Andrew Valle, singer, songwriter and producer
- Mikey Palermo, DJ
- Gary Flux, DJ
Also, anyone who wanted to be involved in the event, is – so many of Tyler’s friends stepped up to help sell tickets, get items for the silent auction, coordinate photo shoots, etc. It’s been a huge team effort.
Through your experience, what kind of support do the families of gun-violence victims need that we might not be aware of?
There are a lot of ways to support families and victims of gun violence that may not be the most obvious. Everyone shows up in the days following the incident. But for those who are affected personally, the pain and grief and the legal matters, and the impact it has on their lives, have long lasting implications. They may need support not only for days, but for weeks, months and even years as an estate is dealt with or a criminal trial progresses. They may continue to need counselling during that time and after as they hear in detail about the injury or death of their loved one. Their needs may be financial, such as funeral costs or counselling sessions or travel to get to these places, or they may be matters of timing, such as time away from work or an accommodating schedule to meet with the police and attend court. They may need emotional support at home, at work, and someone with them at Court, from friends, family and other like Victim Services. The needs of one person may not be the same as the needs of another, so having a breadth and depth of support is so crucial.
You, and your friends, are creating a positive outcome despite a tragic ending. What’s been the biggest learning/or life lesson from this process?
I suppose planning this event helped to channel all the sad and heartbreaking feelings into something positive. There isn’t a second that goes by where I don’t think of Tyler, but i’ve been able to push forward knowing The Tyler Effect will allow for Tyler to live on in some way.
You never really get over loosing someone who meant so much to you. There’s no ‘getting through it’ or ‘moving on’. There isn’t an end to the sadness and pain of this person not being here anymore. I’ve learnt instead that the pain of loosing Tyler is something I will endure, for the rest of my life, and adapt, alter and change accordingly.
What would you want people to know about your friend Tyler?
I’d want people to know how genuinely caring and loving Tyler was, he would always put others first before himself. He was so important to so many people. Tyler really did have an effect on people- he was kind in an incredibly organic way, and he didn’t really fall into any cliques or follow any trends. He was himself through and through. Everyone mentions his smile- he was always beaming. I think a lot of people who knew him as a kid, or throughout high school and even university, would say he was shy or quiet, but if you got him alone or with a group of close friends, he was incredibly quirky, silly, witty and creative. He LOVED putting on accents and making silly faces. He just saw the world differently, and was very much a realist. A little stubborn. Very philosophical, very down to earth. Sensitive. Always open to trying new things. Wore his heart on his sleeve. Loved his mom and sisters deeply.
The Tyler Effect inaugural charity event is on Friday, March 23, 2018 at the Love Child Social House (69 Bathurst Street, Toronto) For full details, visit www.thetylereffect.com