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Hundreds attend solemn vigil 3 years after London, Ont., truck attack

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to mark the third year since a man motivated by hate for Muslims carried out a deadly truck attack against a London, Ont. family.

Youth organizing vigil continue to fight Islamophobia in memory of Afzaal family

Crowd of hundreds attends 3rd annual vigil in honour of London Ont., truck attack victims

4 hours ago

Duration 0:28

The vigil was held at the site of the attack that happened on June 6, 2021. It's the first time the community has gathered to remember the family since the man responsible for the attack was sentenced to life in prison.

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to mark the third year since a man motivated by hate for Muslims carried out a deadly truck attack against a family in London, Ont.

The vigil was held at the site of the attack that shocked not only the Muslim community, but the country as a whole, when it happened on June 6, 2021. It's the first commemoration since the man responsible for the attack was convicted by a jury, and deemed a terrorist by the judge overseeing his trial.

"Despite our fears, despite our reality, despite our pain, we gather here today where three generations of a family were taken from us," event organizer Israa Ibrahim told the crowd.

The vigil was organized by a group of Muslim youth, some friends with victim Yumnah, who came together after the terrorist attack. They call themselves the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI), and they've stayed together for support and to work on education campaigns to fight against Islamophobia.

On June 6, 2021, the Afzaal family was out for a walk when Salman Afzaal, his wife, Madiha Salman, grandmother, Talat, and the couple's daughter, Yumnah, were killed by self-proclaimed white nationalist Nathaniel Veltman, who was 21 at the time.

The killer, whose trial concluded with sentencing this February, admitted to police that he was fuelled by hatred for Muslims. The jury agreed he purposely hit the family at the intersection of South Carriage and Hyde Park roads.

"It makes me really happy to see that the community came out for an event like this to honor our London family again for the third time," said YCCI volunteer Nawaal Salat.

On top of the creation of the YCCI, the truck attack spurred lawmakers to appoint Canada's first special representative to combat Islamophobia.

That representative, Amira Elghawaby, spoke at Thursday's vigil, stressing both the importance of it and other community events that bring people together face-to-face. She said human connection across cultural and religious boundaries is key to fighting hate.

Also present at the vigil were City of London officials, including Amher Khan, London's Muslim community liaison advisor.

According to Khan, who is in charge of the city's action plan to fight Islamophobia, a rise in hate crimes reported by police in London and elsewhere only added importance to Thursday's vigil.

"The terror attack tried to divide us. Instead, the city has come together and so have the youth," he said, pointing to the YCCI. "We see the youth driving community. We see the youth at the forefront of making sure that our London family is remembered."

With the killer's trial over, and the attack having happened three years ago, Khan said the hundreds of Londoners who turned out to the vigil are a testament to the community's passion and drive in fighting hate.

"It still matters. [The killer being in prison] doesn't mean our healing and our commitment to ending Islamophobia stops."

LISTEN: Amira Elghawaby, Canada's first appointed Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, reflects on the third anniversary of the Afzaal family's death.

Afternoon Drive8:58Afzaal family vigil sparks conversation on Islamophobia

On the third anniversary of their death, Londoners will be gathering for a vigil to remember the Afzaal family. Among the attendees is Amira Elghawaby, Canada's first appointed special representative on combatting Islamophobia. Guest host Travis Dolynny is joined by Elghawaby to discuss.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alessio Donnini

Reporter/Editor

Alessio is a multimedia journalist, and a London, Ont., native. Since graduating from Fanshawe College's Broadcast Journalism program, he's worked in markets from Toronto to Windsor covering breaking news and telling stories for his community and beyond. Alessio can be heard on weekday afternoons reading the news for Afternoon Drive.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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