On June 12, 2021, hundreds gathered for a vigil in Victoria Park, Milton, to mourn the Afzaal family – victims of a hate crime in London, Ontario. Heartfelt speeches, thoughtful bouquets, and overwhelming support marked the day as a memorable show of solidarity from the entire Milton community. The attack, pronounced a terrorist attack by officials, had killed three generations of a Muslim family and left a nine-year old boy orphaned and recovering in the hospital.
Salman Afzaal, Madiha Salman, Yumna Salman, and Talat Afzaal were all integral members of the London community and losing them left many in shock. After starting the vigil with recitation of Quranic scripture, various speakers commemorated the family and highlighted ways in which Canadians can come together to ensure horrendous acts, such as this one, do not take place again.
A statement from the victims’ family was read, which was followed by speeches from members of the community, Syed Mohsin Reza and Mehreen Shami, discussing the steps that must be taken by the government and people in positions of power to counteract the systems that allow such hate crimes to take place. After, MP Adam Van Koeverden, MPP Parm Gill, Milton Town Councillor Sameera Ali, and Sergeant Ryan Smith on behalf of police Chief Stephen Tanner all delivered messages of compassion to the Muslim community in Milton. Town councillors Rick Di Lorenzo and Mike Cluett, trustees of the Halton region school boards, and individuals of all faiths were also in attendance as a gesture of unity.
An abundance of Milton youth also participated as volunteers during the vigil, doing their part for their community. Several people wore green and purple clothing and specialized ribbons in honour of the Afzaal family. A board was also set up for all attendees to write messages of hope for the grieving family and the nine-year-old boy who is still recovering. Th e board is going to be delivered to the victims’ family as a gesture of support from the Milton community.
Th e MC’s, Shanzey Ali and Zainab Fatima, both currently in university, voiced the opinion of the youth and called on everyone to take action against hate. Th e vigil organizers, Zainab Fatima, Shanzey Ali, Uzma Ali, Ayesha Khan- Faruqui, Tabassum Wyne, Naushad Khan, and Faisal Siddiqui, thanked everyone for the outpouring of support they had seen from the community and wanted everyone to remember that “It’s time to spread love for all and hate for none”.