Hundreds gathered in Lawrence Heights late Friday afternoon to mourn Abshir Hassan, the local teacher who was shot dead in that neighbourhood earlier this week.
Hassan was laid to rest earlier in the day, drawing busloads of students, friends and colleagues. More than 1,500 filled the mosque, while hundreds more prayed outside.
Hassan grew up in Lawrence Heights and later, as part-time teacher, ran programs for the neighbourhood’s underprivileged kids.
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“He was committed to young people who deserved equal opportunities having those opportunities,” said Chris Penrose, executive director of the Success Beyond Limits, a program for students in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood for which Hassan volunteered.
The 31-year-old part-time teacher at Lawrence Heights Middle School was shot Tuesday at around 12:15 a.m. ET when police say a car pulled up outside the Flemington Road apartment building and fired several rounds.
Students remember him as a positive force.
“He was helping me with my anger,” student Tashalya Price told CBC News. “Now I know … my education comes before anything so I have to make sure I keep my anger calm.”
There were tears and embraces as his casket was carried out. Hassan's colleagues say his positive outlook touched everyone and his death, while tragic, may bring positive change to the neighbourhood he called home.
“I think he would ask the students to move on from and learn from what we have lost and be grateful for what we have in our lives,” said Jason Liu.
A scholarship in his name is being set up by community leaders and Success Beyond Limits.
A vigil in his honour will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. at 11 Flemington Rd.