Canadian victim of Barcelona attack remembered as 'compassionate, generous, adventurous'
Ian Wilson was killed and four other Canadians were injured when a van mowed through crowds in Barcelona on Thursday.
The Canadian killed in this week's terrorist attack in Barcelona has been identified as Ian Wilson, the father of Vancouver Police Department Staff-Sergeant Fiona Wilson.
"My dad, Ian Moore Wilson, was a much-loved husband, father, brother and grandfather, who lived a healthy, active life alongside his partner of 53 years, my mum, Valerie," said Staff-Sgt. Wilson in a statement distributed by the VPD.
"He was compassionate, generous, adventurous, and always game for a lively debate, a good book, exploring new places and a proper-sized pint.
"In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days, and that is exactly what we intend to do." The statement referred to a man named "Albert," who "threw a family member on the back of his scooter to rush him to the hospital after tragedy truck."
She also praised "the people who assisted my dad in his final moments, and those who focused on my mum's urgent medical attention and aftercare."
Staff-Sgt. Wilson said her family is thinking of that assistance as they come to terms with the "senseless violence and acts of hatred" in the attack.
"My dad's passing leaves an immense void in our tight-knit family. He was desperately loved by us all and will be dearly missed."
No other details were provided on the circumstances of Mr. Wilson's passing, and the statement says the family will have no further comment.
Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that a Canadian was killed and four others injured Thursday when a van plowed into crowds of tourists on a popular street in Barcelona.
In total, 13 people were killed, while another died in a separate attack in the nearby resort town of Cambrils. As many as 100 were injured.
Spanish authorities said citizens from 34 countries were among the dead and injured.
Mr. Trudeau offered his condolences to the family members and friends of Mr. Wilson and those injured.
"It was with great sadness that I learned today that one Canadian was killed and four others injured during [the] cowardly terrorist attack in Barcelona," Mr. Trudeau said in a statement.
"Sophie and I offer our condolences to the families and friends in mourning, and hope for a speedy recovery for the injured Canadians.
"We join Spain and countries around the world in grieving the senseless loss of so many innocent people. We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve."
Canadian officials Friday continued to advise Canadians in Barcelona to avoid the Las Ramblas area, where the attack occurred, and follow directions from local authorities. Spanish police said the driver of the van may still be alive and at large, denying earlier media reports that he was one of five terror suspects shot dead in Cambrils Friday morning.
Allan Gray and his family were in a Las Ramblas restaurant when they heard a loud crash and saw crowds of panicked people rushing to the back of the building.
Amid the commotion, the Mississauga, Ont., man ran with his wife and two daughters into an adjoining hotel where they huddled on an upper floor for the next five hours, flinching at the sound of gunshots and wondering whether movements in the stairwells were people trying to find safety or a potential terrorist about to launch another attack.
Mr. Gray, 50, said that the scariest part of the entire ordeal was not knowing what was going on.
His daughter, Daniela Gray, said that she was preparing for the worst. "For many hours, we were terrified that there was someone inside or that there was going to be an explosion of some sort," the 24-year-old said.
At one point, Allan Gray said he looked outside the hotel's window to see what was going on and got a view of the aftermath of the attack.
"There was a woman on the ground that was hurt, another person's legs not moving, and a little boy who was lifeless on the ground," he said. "It was horrific."
The family of four took shelter in the hotel until a police officer escorted them out of the area to safety.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday that Canadian authorities always step up vigilance at home when an attack like this happens elsewhere.
"When an event like this occurs, extra special attention is focused on it so Canadians can be assured that their police and their security services are taking every necessary step to keep Canadians safe," he said during an event in Regina.
Spanish authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks – as well as an explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia – were related and the work of a large terrorist group.
Anca Gurzu, a Canadian from Ottawa, was in a nearby neighbourhood when the Barcelona attack took place, but only realized what was going on after receiving a frantic call from a friend.
"[The police] were just everywhere, they were walking with their guns, and it was a bit surreal," said Ms. Gurzu, who went to the scene of the attack about two hours after it took place to see what was going on.
She said the residents of Barcelona remained "defiant" in the face of the violence, and that thousands of mourners gathered in the city's main square on Friday to observe a minute of silence and march through the city's streets.
With files from Reuters.
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