Kelowna residents gather to pay respects for the Afzaal family, who were intentionally struck and killed

Vigil held for London family

The funeral held on Saturday for the Afzaal family, who were intentionally struck and killed last weekend, saw people across the country mourning the loss of the victims as well as pay their respects, including Kelowna.

A vigil was put on by the Kelowna Islamic Centre in Stuart Park. Other religious groups came out to show their solidarity by speaking on their behalf, and dozens of community members looked on while holding small candles that were handed out by one of the attendees.

Steve Shoranick, the Chair of the B.C. Muslim Association for the Kelowna branch said this vigil was necessary to put on.

“It’s very important because a lot of people from the community, whether it be the Muslim community and other communties in Kelowna sent out a lot of calls and support messages and they all really wanted us to do something,” Shoranick explained.

One Kelowna resident in attendance feels that the community showing support, even from so far away, is important for the overall safety of everyone.

“I think it’s really important that we come together and support this family. It was such a tragedy what happened, a travesty,” said Colleen Chapman. “I can't imagine a family going for a lovely Sunday night walk and someone intentionally runs them down to kill them. It's just unbelievable.”

It’s difficult to grasp why anyone would commit such a heinous act on an innocent family. Saifulah Mahfuz is an international student who is currently studying at the UBCO. He is also an executive member of the schools Muslim Association, and he said he feels that the display of people coming together as one for the vigil is exactly what this city is all about.

“I saw Kelowna as a very peaceful city where people have been living in harmony for years, and I felt immediately safe, so that's why I applied for school here. I think this (the vigil) is a reflection of that because the incident that happened in London is very unfortunate and shouldn’t have happened to anybody,” said Mahfuz.

“No one deserves to be killed when walking in their neighbourhood right? I think this gives a strong message to everyone in Canada and to the world.”

Mahfuz also added that despite people's differences, when we come together as a community, our heart beats as one.

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