Memorials held across Saskatchewan for Muslim family killed in London, Ont.

Saskatchewan community members and local leaders gathered for memorials on Wednesday and Thursday, paying their respects to a Muslim family killed in London, Ont.

Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother were killed after being struck Sunday by a pickup truck.

Read more: Father of suspect calls London attack ‘unspeakable crime’

Afzaal and Salman’s 9-year-old son suffered serious injuries but survived. The family was out for a walk.

The London Police Service alleges they were deliberately hit because they were Muslim.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in relation to the incident.

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On Tuesday, memorials were set up in Regina at the Legislative Building and in Saskatoon in front of City Hall.

Daniyal Mustafa, director of communications for Pakistan Canada Cultural Association of Saskatoon, said he and his daughter go on a walk almost every day. His daughter asked him if they could go for a walk the day after the London attack.

“I was scared. I didn’t want to go. I was trying to make excuses and she kept insisting,” Mustafa told Global News.

“I knew I was lying and that shouldn’t happen. We came here to feel safe,” he added.

A Regina physician who was in attendance at memorial held Wednesday outside the Legislative Building said conversations should start early about different cultures and ethnicities.

Click to play video: 'Relatives of slain Muslim family touched by Canadians’ support.' Relatives of slain Muslim family touched by Canadians’ support.

Relatives of slain Muslim family touched by Canadians’ support.

“You have to learn enough about yourself and learn about others so you know where you have common ground and where you differ. But your differences should not be a point to discriminate, to hate, to disregard the other person,” Dr. Mohamed Moolla said.

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Moolla added it’s important to have these conversations sooner rather than later as they make an impact on how individuals behave around and respect others.

Harris Khan organized the Regina event and said he did it to acknowledge what happen in London but to also create further awareness and send a message to politicians.

“A lot more needs to be done, not just protecting minorities, just protecting human lives. We lost those individuals in Ontario and they were just doing their thing.”

“Nobody should have to do that, just to go for walk and that may end your life. Nobody should have to face that. We need to educate our elected officials, our leaders, that lots more needs to be done. It’s not just the lip service, we need actual things to protect lives.

Read more: Funeral set for the London Muslim family killed in Sunday’s attack

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said city council has been talking often about addressing systemic racism.

“It’s one of the most topical in the issues that we’re grappling with and wrestling with as a city, as a city council in recent weeks and months,” Clark told reporters.

Clark said it’s concerning to hear stories like Mustafa’s about being afraid to go for a walk in Saskatoon after the attack in London.

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The University of Regina also held a memorial on Wednesday in partnership with the Muslim Student Association (URMSA) and the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (Regina).

Read more: What is the government doing about Islamophobia in Canada? Here’s what we know

Ahmed Aboudheir, president of Islamic Association of Saskatchewan, pointed out this is not the first such apparent targeted incident, pointing to the Quebec Mosque attack in 2017 as a tragic example.

Aboudheir believes it’s the responsibility of all Canadians to think about what their contribution will be to ending hate.

“We do not want to meet again in this type of event or occasions.”

The memorial was followed by a prayer led by Iman Mohammad Masloh and a moment of silence.

— With files from Stewart Bell, Andrew Russell


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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