Remembering Yumna Afzaal, the 15-year-old killed in the London truck attack

CBC Kids News • Published 2021-06-10 09:37

Teen called a 'thoughtful' friend


In so many ways, Yumna Afzaal was like any other teenager.

She was looking forward to starting Grade 10 in the fall, she missed her friends during COVID-19 and had just received her first dose of the vaccine.

But Yumna’s life was cut short on June 6 when she and her family were hit by a pickup truck while out for a walk in London, Ontario.

Yumna’s parents and grandmother were also killed. Her nine-year-old brother, Fayez, is in hospital and is expected to survive.

Police say the person driving the truck was motivated by hate toward Muslim people. He’s been arrested.

As the investigation continues, Yumna’s being remembered and honoured by her friends and Muslim kids across the country.

Yumna Afzaal, 15, alongside her mom, grandmother and father. They were all killed in the truck attack on June 6. (Image submitted by Afzaal family)

Her legacy lives on

Yumna’s friend, Hateem Amin, 14, described her as the kind of friend everyone wants to have.

“She would just compliment you and she would notice your insecurities and purposely direct the compliments at that,” Hateem said. “She was so thoughtful.”

The two had been friends since they were nine years old.

A teen holds a sign in a crowd that reads

Hateem Amin attended a vigil along with thousands of other people to honour the Afzaal family on June 8 in London, Ontario. (Image credit: Mark Gollom/CBC)

Last year, Yumna graduated from the London Islamic School, where she had painted a floor-to-ceiling mural before she left.

It features an image of the Earth floating in space beside the words, “Learn. Lead. Inspire.”

“She told our principal that she wanted to leave the mural as a legacy for the school,” said Hassan Moostafa, who knew the family.

“So every time we go down to that basement, that will be something that will just be a small part of her legacy.”

The mural has the following message: ‘Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.’ (Image credit: Rob Krbavac/CBC)

Muslim teens react

Ali Kermali, 12, lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and heard on the news about the mural Yumna painted.

“That really stuck with me because I'm always trying to make an impact on my school,” he told CBC Kids News.

Ali, who is also Muslim, was out on a walk just like Yumna, with his dad and grandmother, when he found out what happened in nearby London.

“I just kept looking back every so often,” he said. “I felt scared and unwelcomed in those few minutes that I was walking.”

Ali Kermali, 12, said Canada needs to be a more inclusive country. (Image submitted by Ali Kermali)

On Tuesday, Ali asked his teacher if the class could have a moment of silence for the Afzaal family.

The teacher agreed and everyone turned off their cameras.

In Montreal, Sauda Shariff, 14, was also sad to hear the news, but she said it shouldn’t prevent her or anyone from living their lives, regardless of their religion.

“Be proud of who you are,” she said. “Just because this happens, don’t be afraid of going outside.”

Sauda Shariff, 14, said Canadians need to be more accepting of different peoples’ faiths. (Image submitted by Sauda Shariff)

She wished Yumna’s brother, Fayez, a speedy recovery.

“Be patient,” she said to him. “Your family is in a good place. We are all with you.”

Do you need support?

If you need help or to talk to someone, you can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.

With files from Mark Gollom, Andrew Lupton, Kate Dubinksi/CBC, Nicole Thompson/The Canadian Press

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