They promise to be solemn, heart-wrenching events, as London, Ont. prepares to mark the day four members of the Afzaal family were killed. A fifth member of the family, a young boy, suffered serious physical and emotional trauma.
Organizers hope the observances will help in the healing and further the discussion focused on ending hate. The accused is facing four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
June 6 will mark one year since the deaths of Madiha Salman, 44, Salman Afzaal, 46, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and her grandmother, Talat Afzaal, 74. Fayaz, the son of Madiha and Salman, was 9-years-old at the time and suffered serious injuries.
The family was struck by a vehicle while on a sidewalk in what police have identified as a hate crime.
A number of events are planned, including a march Sunday afternoon from Oakridge Secondary School to the London Muslim Mosque, organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia.
The ‘Our London Family’ memorial is being constructed at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road to honour the members of the Afzaal family who were killed and injured on June 6, 2021. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)
“I think there are really three things we want to accomplish this week,” said Nawaz Tahir from the Hikma Public Affairs Council.
“One, we want to honour the family and make sure we truly remember them. We want to provide the community another opportunity to heal and to grieve. And also take stock of where we’re at in terms of moving the needle in terms of making sure this doesn’t happen to another family or community again,” Tahir added.
There will be a series of events on Monday starting at 1 p.m. and culminating with a vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the newly constructed memorial plaza at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road, near where the tragedy occurred.
City of London officials say all events are being coordinated by members of the Muslim community and their allies, with support from the city.
“So a key part is having a place for these community conversations to happen, recognizing that the community is hurting and how to be part of building a safe and inclusive London for all. Responding to what they need is paramount,” said Elizabeth Peloza, Ward 12 councillor.
Tahir says the focus continues to be on remembering and honouring the Afzaal family, and told CTV News, “The reaction from Londoners — in particular, to be allies, stand up against hate — has been something that has really been heartwarming. I think there’s still a lot that can be done from a political perspective.”
“There’s a lot of change, and legislative change, that we can still accomplish,” Tahir added.
A full list of scheduled Our London Family events can be found on the City of London website.