Hundreds of family, friends and community members gathered in Edmonton on Friday night to mourn, pray and pay their final respects to the family killed in a highway crash near Golden, B.C., last Sunday.
Arshad Mahmood and his wife, Shakila, their children, Drakhshan (Dolly), 15, and Mahlaka, 13, and Arshad's father, Muhammed Shraif, 81, were killed along with Syeda Alizay Asad, 14, from Ponoka, Alta., when their Dodge Caravan collided head-on with a motorhome on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Mourners packed the gymnasium of the Al Rashid Mosque, where the funeral took place. Many openly wept and wailed.
Six coffins were placed at the front of the room — the three adults side by side and, in the next row, three pastel-pink caskets for the three teenage girls.
After the service, mourners reached out to touch the coffins, one by one, as they passed by.
Eleven-year-old Aashar Mahmood, who had traded seats with Asad, was travelling in a vehicle behind the family van and saw the crash, which killed his entire family.
"It's going to be hard. It's not going to be an easy ride for him," said family friend Nazia Islam, who worked with Arshad.
"It was not in my wildest dreams that I'd be planning [Arshad's] funeral," Islam said.
A trust fund has been set up to collect donations that will cover the funeral costs, estimated at $50,000, and an education fund for Aashar. The goal is to raise $300,000.
His extended family is still deciding whether he should stay in Canada or go back to Pakistan.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the fund can write a cheque to the "IFSSA-Mahmood Family Fund" and deposit it at TD Canada Trust, account number 154521898.
Alternatively, tax receipts will be issued for cheques mailed to or dropped off at:
- Islamic Family Social Services Association, #85 4003 98th St., Edmonton, Alta., T6E 3M8.
- Indo Canadian Women's Association, 9342 34th Ave. NW, Edmonton, Alta., T6E 5X8.
- Rainbow Copy Centre, 9316 34th Ave., Edmonton, Alta., T6E 5X8.
- Markaz Al Islam, 7607 36th Ave., Edmonton, Alta., T6K 3S8.
Tax receipts will not be issued for cash donations or donations deposited directly at the bank.
The Mahmood Family Welfare Committee is also setting up an online donation page at edmontoncares.com.