Windsorites walk to honour members of Afzaal family killed in London, Ont.

·2 min read
A Walk of Solidarity for Our London Family was held in Windsor, Ont., on the evening of June 6, 2022. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
A Walk of Solidarity for Our London Family was held in Windsor, Ont., on the evening of June 6, 2022. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

Windsorites gathered for a walk on the city's waterfront to mark one year since four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., were killed while they were out for a walk.

The event started at Bert Weeks Memorial Garden, where speakers addressing the crowd called for an end to Islamophobia.

"While government legislation is an important starting point to address the problem, there is an individual responsibility on each and every one of us to challenge this form of racism and discrimination wherever it is encountered," said Ghallia Hashem.

Grade 6 student Rokaya El-Gammel presented a poem she wrote about the family.

"Walking, skipping some steps, talking about all their dreams, laughing to an old joke, there were five," she said.

The poem ended with the line, "There were five, but now it's only one."

Five members of the Afzaal family were out for a walk on June 6, 2021, when they were hit by a driver in what police have said was a hate-motivated attack. Parents Salman Afzaal and Madiha Salman along with grandmother Talat Afzaal and daughter 15-year-old Yumnah Afzaal were killed. A nine-year-old son survived the attack.

A London man has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and terrorism charges. He is expected to go to trial in 2023.

The Afzaal family is being remembered at events in London and in other parts of the province.

The Windsor event was hosted by Islamic Relief, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and London Mosque.

"I think it's very important to remember it, especially on the anniversary, but also throughout the year and remind ourselves that this is a reality, this is a part of Canadian society unfortunately and we need to bring awareness to it so that we can act on it and make future actions that will prevent it from ever happening again," organizer Amna Masoodi said in an interview earlier on Monday.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

The attack prompted an outpouring of grief and anger across Canada and beyond, and shone a spotlight on Islamophobia. Masoodi said it has changed the way she acts in public.

"It's definitely made me way more sad and way more scared, because the small micro-aggressions and small bits of Islamophobia you face, you're like 'Oh, it's not a big deal' and then you realize it can amount to something that will take somebody's life or an entire family's lives," she said.

LISTEN | Hear more from Amna Masoodi about how Windsor is remembering the Afzaal family:

Islamaphobia, she said, is prevalent in Canadian society, but can be hidden.

"I feel it's actually more insidious because it's kind of in the closet, you know, so you don't realize it's happening until something big happens or something like this, you're like, oh that's a really big deal, all the little things that have been happening to me."

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