The city will host a slate of community events in early June as organizers look to honour the four members of the Afzaal family who were killed in last year’s targeted vehicle attack in northwest London, Ont.
In what marked the deadliest mass murder in London’s history, the attack on June 6, 2021, targeted a local Muslim family out for an evening walk in the city’s Hyde Park neighbourhood.
They were struck by a pickup truck in what police have labelled a hate crime that targeted the family based on their religion.
Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother Talat Afzaal were killed in the attack. The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured but survived.
A full list of the events is available now on a dedicated webpage on the City of London’s website.
They include an Our London Family March on June 5 which will have participants travel from Oakridge Secondary School to the London Muslim Mosque.
There will also be a vigil on June 6 at the site of the attack itself.
The Youth Coalition Combatting Islamophobia (YCCI) is one of the lead organizers for the upcoming events and coordinator Selma Tobah says there’s a significance to where the vigil is being held.
“It’s this notion of reclaiming this space and saying this intersection, this area where the attack occurred will no longer be marred by the violence itself, but by the remembrance of the beautiful lives that were taken,” Tobah said.
How to speak with your kids about the London attack on a Muslim family
YCCI was formed in the wake of the June 6 killings and is made up of young Londoners who were personally impacted by the attack, particularly those who were close with Yumna.
“That’s really been the purpose of this coalition is to give these young people an avenue to use their voice in a way that’s productive and in a way that they feel is healing and really honours their friend that was murdered in this attack,” said Tobah.
Amplifying youth voices was one of the recommendations that came out of London’s Action Plan to Disrupt Islamophobia, the result of months of consultation with local stakeholders that followed the June 6 attack.
London’s anti-racism and anti-oppression director Rumina Morris, who had a leading role in developing the action plan, says the upcoming events also follow through on another suggestion that emerged from those consultations.
“People in the community were really looking for the city to take the lead in terms of bringing people together, so not leading to organize, but to bring people together and make those connections,” Morris said.
Some of the people being brought together include the London Muslim Mosque, the Thames Valley and London District Catholic school boards, the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Service Integration and the London Public Library to name a few.
Behind the scenes, Morris says police and other emergency services are working to make sure the events stay safe.
She hopes the anniversary will provide an opportunity for reflection for all Londoners.
“The days after the attack, I think everybody was in absolute shock that this has happened in our community and the impact of it was really, really intense in terms of emotions,” Morris said.
“I don’t think the emotions are going to be any less intense, but I certainly see it as an opportunity to really reflect on what we have done since that one year and how we are really – as a community – coming together … to really address Islamophobia in all of its forms.”
Community honours legacy of four murdered Muslims
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