As snowflakes drifted to the ground in front of Ottawa City Hall Saturday, hundreds gathered to mourn Hodan Hashi, the 23-year-old woman who died earlier this month in a bloody fight with another woman at a Saskatoon nightclub.
Hashi's older sister, Shukri, solemnly hugged those who came out to remember her sister and show their support.
"She was just goofy, always smiling, always happy, always kind and always giving," she said, adding the family has been devastated by the loss.
A statement released by the family prior to the vigil described Hodan Hashi as an intelligent and selfless person who spent time helping newcomers resettle in Canada.
"We're taking it day by day, trying to lean on each other and just keep our memories alive of her — and using that to fuel our fight for justice for her," said Shukri Hashi.
Petition to shut down nightclub
Hodan Hashi had just graduated from Sir Robert Borden High School when she moved to Saskatoon in the summer of 2021, according to her older sister.
The family had lived there together in 2015, and Hashi wanted to return to a familiar place where she had many friends, her sister said.
She was set to attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic in January to study early childhood education.
The day Shukri Hashi found out her sister was dead was "a tough morning," she said.
She'd found out through various sources, including Saskatoon police, as well as widely circulated social media videos of the fatal Nov. 5 brawl at the LIT Nightclub.
There's now an online petition to shut the club down.
"It should have been shut down as soon as this happened. It's mind-boggling how it's still operating," said Shukri Hashi. "It's obviously an unsafe environment. The people in charge did not ensure the safety of its patrons."
Neima Magan, who attended the vigil, said she too found out about Hodan Hashi's death through social media and was shocked by the news.
Magan said Hashi was a Muslim of Somali descent, just like her.
"I'm here to support our sister that passed away, our sister that [has] been killed," Magan said. "She didn't do nothing."
'No one to protect her'
Holding signs that read "Justice for Hodan," Hashi's friends, family and members of the Somali-Canadian community stood in the cold and chanted rallying cries like "Black lives matter here."
Khadija El Hilali said she organized the vigil not only to grieve for Hashi, but also raise awareness of the "layers of issues" around her death.
"This is a community issue. It's a society issue ... especially given the amount of Somali women who have either been harassed or abused or just treated badly in the Prairies specifically," she said.
El Hilali said she was appalled that the woman charged with manslaughter, 22-year-old Paige Theriault-Fisher, was released on $5,000 bail.
"That's a quarter of what it cost to bring Hodan's body to Ottawa," she said. "She was home before Hodan was home. She wasn't put to rest and the accused was already on bail ... that shouldn't sit right with anybody.
"Hodan had no one to protect her. The accused had her complexion."
Vigils for Hashi also took place in Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Toronto. Theriault-Fisher is scheduled to appear in court next on Dec. 15.