'She was full of life': Loved ones, community attend vigil in honour of woman who died in Saskatoon nightclub

Emilia Figueroa (left) and her sister attended a vigil in Saskatoon on Nov. 19, one of five vigils across the country to honour and remember her friend Hodan Hashi, who died in a nightclub early November.  (Theresa Kliem/CBC - image credit)
Emilia Figueroa (left) and her sister attended a vigil in Saskatoon on Nov. 19, one of five vigils across the country to honour and remember her friend Hodan Hashi, who died in a nightclub early November. (Theresa Kliem/CBC - image credit)

Tears ran down Emilia Figueroa's face as she remembered her friend Hodan Hashi.

The young women first met while working at the Fun Factory in Saskatoon, said Figueroa.

That's when their friendship kicked off.

"She really was like my soul sister," said Figueroa. "We really got each other. She was full of life."

Figueroa was one of dozens of people gathered outside Saskatoon city hall on Saturday to remember Hashi, who died after a bloody altercation at LIT Nightclub on Nov. 5.

Four other cities in Canada — Regina, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa — also held vigils the same day in honour of the 23-year-old woman from Ottawa, Ont.

"She was always a very positive, beautiful light in this world," said Figueroa, who came to show her support for her friend's family.

"It's a really tough process knowing that she's not with us anymore."

Submitted by Hashi family
Submitted by Hashi family

Family, community remember Hashi, call for justice

The Saskatoon Somali community and Black Lives Matter YXE organized the vigil.

"We're gathering here to remember the young life that we lost," said Ali Abukar, who represented Hashi's family and the local Somali community at the event.

Abukar said Hashi came to Saskatoon to study early childhood education, particularly to work with young children with disabilities.

"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken for the loss of our sister Hodan Hashi," reads a statement from the Hashi family, who described the young woman as a kind-hearted, intelligent and selfless person, who spent much of her time helping newcomers resettle in Canada.

"Hodan deserved to live a full life and to be part of our vibrant community."

Abukar and others are calling for justice for the young woman, her family and the community.

"The way that the murder and the killing happened, and how publicly [it] was shared, that didn't give the family and the community the space that they needed to grieve peacefully," said Abukar, referring to videos of the incident that circulated on social media.

He said her death has had a big impact on the Somali community.

"That has taken a huge toll on the family and the friends.

"We want to be able to live our lives in a safe and an inclusive way," he added.

"What bothers me personally [as] someone who lives in this community and is raising a young family, I don't want to raise my family in a community where we feel fear."

Saskatoon mayor speaks at vigil

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, who said he was invited by the community, also attended the vigil.

"This has been a very tragic loss of a life in our community, it's affected family members, friends, loved ones, and the community as a whole," said Clark.

Theresa Kliem/CBC
Theresa Kliem/CBC

"Especially right now … within racialized communities and within the Black community, or anybody, they want to know that everybody has the equal opportunity for a fair and full investigation."

He said while he understands that people want to make sure there is a thorough investigation, he is not getting involved in the process.

Paige Theriault-Fisher, 22, is charged with manslaughter in connection to Hashi's death.

She is currently out on bail and scheduled to appear again in court on Dec. 15.