Female doctors fill Toronto church with song in honour of Dr. Elana Fric

People packed a church in Toronto on Monday evening to hear a group of female physicians sing in honour of a doctor murdered by her husband three years ago.

The concert, called Soul Medicine, was held at Leaside United Church, at 822 Millwood Rd., to raise funds for the three children of Dr. Elana Fric and to raise awareness of intimate-partner violence.

Fric, a family doctor, was killed by her husband in 2016. All of the proceeds from the concert were to go to her children. Many of the songs sung at the concert were about love and overcoming obstacles.

"Physicians were deeply affected by her death. It was all happened behind closed doors. Nobody knew what was going on," concert organizer Cheryl Bower told reporters.

"They felt it was really important to keep her memory alive."

Bower said one doctor organized the group, which has been rehearsing for 10 weeks. Most of the doctors did not know each other before the group was formed.

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She said the family is very grateful that the concert was organized.

"What I hope comes from tonight is an awareness that domestic violence is still very prevalent in our society. If we can do one thing to increase awareness, we have done our job," Bower said.

Colleagues have said Fric was a vibrant, dedicated family physician at the Scarborough Hospital who juggled roles as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and as a member of the health policy committee at the Ontario Medical Association.

Fric was 40 years old when she was murdered. 

Her husband, Mohammed Shamji, 43, who was a prominent neurosurgeon, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April of this year and is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 14 years.

He attacked Fric, his wife of 12 years, in their family home two days after she served him with divorce papers, according to an agreed statement of facts that was read in court at the time of the case.

Court heard that  Shamji repeatedly beat Fric on the night of her murder, breaking her neck and ribs before choking her to death as their three young children slept. 

Fric's body was found on Dec. 1, 2016, in a suitcase near an underpass in Vaughan, Ont., about 35 kilometres north of Toronto. Shamji had placed the suitcase in a vehicle and disposed of it in the Humber River.

Fric was found to have died from strangulation and blunt-force trauma. During the case, court heard the couple's marriage was volatile and included both physical and verbal abuse of Fric by her husband.