Hundreds of mourners gathered outside Fabre metro station Sunday to remember Naima Rharouity, who died there last week when her scarf became entangled in an escalator.
People lit candles and placed flowers around a photo of Rharouity outside the entrance to the metro station where she died just minutes after dropping off her son at daycare last Thursday.
Friends and strangers gathered around Rharouity’s devastated husband, El Hanana Cherkaoui, who returned to Montreal Saturday from his mother’s funeral in Morocco.
“She was a noble woman, extraordinary, faithful and courageous,” El Hanana said of his wife, who was 47.
“I’m in shock and in mourning and there are no words to express it,” he said.
The couple had only immigrated to Montreal from Morocco about eight months ago with their two young sons.
In her brief time in Montreal, Rharouity's desire to help fellow newcomers to the city impressed many, including Anie Samson, the borough mayor for Villeray-St-Michel-Parc Extension.
“She was there to help people – she arrived here more than eight months ago and the first thing she wanted to do was help people,” Samson told CBC News.
Many of those gathered also condemned rumours and hateful messages on social media and elsewhere sparked by false media reports that blamed Rharouity’s hijab for her death.
“I guess we are just surprised that not more has been said about leaving the family to mourn in peace and to also have to face all the vitriol that has been expressed,” said Leila Bdeir.
Vigil organizer Abdou Zirat said he hoped the event would send a strong message to the people of Quebec.
“We’re all humans, we’re all the same, Quebec belongs as much to us as it does to everyone who lives here. We’re all Quebecers,” he said.