A busy Maple Ridge crossing was the site of a gathering in commemoration of the London, Ont. family struck and killed by a suspected terrorist last week.
About 30 people gathered for the hour-long event along Dewdney Trunk Road, outside Maple Ridge city hall, on Sunday, June 13, to remember the Afzaal family who were intentionally struck by a pickup truck on Sunday, June 6, while out for an evening walk.
At 5:40 p.m. – the same time the tragedy happened – the group crossed Dewdney Trunk Road about 10 times displaying a sign that read, “Maple Ridge is with you Afzaal Family”, and a bouquet of flowers.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman, and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, died in the attack. The couple’s nine-year-old son Fayez was seriously injured but is expected to survive.
London police have said the family were targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Building Interfaith Bridges, an interfaith project serving the communities of Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Katzie First Nations – and the group behind the event – asked participants to dress in traditional outfits in order to raise awareness against Islamophobia.
“Building Interfaith Bridges is a committee that has been in working in our community to bring faiths together. Seeing this horrific tragedy, we couldn’t avoid taking action and standing with the Muslim Community. This Crosswalk Solidarity is a national initiative from the Ismaili Muslim community,” explained Carolina Echeverri, immigration partnership secretariat with the Family Education and Support Centre, hosting agency for the committee.
There were three speeches, including one from Maple Ridge Councillor Ahmed Yousef, and a prayer from the Baha’i community.
Echeverri described the crowd as mostly sad, but ready to take action.
“There were mentions of talking to local, provincial, and federal leaders about a real change. Hate has no place in our society,” she added.
The sign, two bouquets of flowers and a teddy bear were left under the horse clock at the end of the event.
Terror charges have since been laid against 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman. His next court date is scheduled for June 21.
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