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B.C. politicians, Indigenous leaders offer condolences to lone survivor of London, Ont. attack

Children place flowers at the scene of a hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, which left four members of a family dead and sent one to hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Summary

B.C. premier, Indigenous leaders offering condolences to lone survivor of the London, Ont. attack

Premier, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives call the attack heinous, horrific and heart-wrenching

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Indigenous and political leaders in B.C. are offering their condolences to the child who survived the London, Ont. attack that killed four members of a Muslim family.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs in condemning Sunday’s hit-and-run as a “cowardly” act, while Premier John Horgan describes it as “heart-wrenching and horrific beyond words.”

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson says chiefs are “devastated and angered” by what’s being described as an Islamophobic terrorist attack that orphaned a nine-year-old boy.

“Knowing why his family was killed. My hope is that he has a lot of healing. A lot of support, just a lot of prayers for him,” she says.

Wilson adds it’s likely the boy now faces a lifetime of pain.

“Poor child now is motherless, fatherless, and has no family. It’s just terrible that a child has to grow up like that. It really is stemmed from a lot of fear-based anger. Our hearts go out to the families that are grieving right now. I’m really saddened to hear someone could be this full of hate to kill a family like that.”

The boy remains in hospital after being struck by the driver of the vehicle that killed his father, Salman Afzaal, 46, his mother, Madiha Salman, 44, his sister 15-year-old Yumna Afzaal and his 74-year-old grandmother (Salman’s mother).

Wilson says this recent attack is a “huge wake up call” to pay attention to hate-motivated attacks across the country.

“It’s been happening behind closed doors, it’s been happening in our offices, it’s been happening in the playgrounds, and the schools. The Islamophobic fear, the fear of immigration, fear of Indigenous people, [people] of colour, it’s just really those mindsets that need to change.”

The nine-year-old boy lost his family days after the world learned the remains of 215 Indigenous children –separated from their loved ones decades ago– were found on the site of a former Kamloops residential school.

“We need to learn from that … hate isn’t the way,” Wilson says.

“It’s an act atrocious, to our very beings, as human beings. There’s no place in the country for that kind of action against Indigenous people. And we’re working towards advancing diversity, inclusion, and equality for all. These things when they happen like this murder of a family like this, it just totally jars you in mind, body, and soul.”

Wilson says she is counting on Canada’s youth to end decades of systemic racism, intolerance, and terrorism against marginalized communities.

“Our younger generation, they have opportunities to change how the older generation’s mindsets are dynamic and amazing things to change the world. We are all accepting of each other. That’s my hope. That’s my hope that we’re going to change into a world and a better place that way,” she says.

In a joint statement, Premier John Horgan and Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, said, “Make no mistake: hate kills.”

“Tragically, we have seen an increase in instances of Muslims being terrorized for their beliefs. They should not have to live in fear,” the statement reads.

“It takes all of our collective voices to stand in solidarity against anti-Muslim hate in any of its forms.”

The nine-year-old boy, who survived the incident, remains in hospital with serious injuries.