British Columbia

Memorial held in Vancouver for Alan Kurdi, 3, buried in Syria

There was more anger and despair over the deaths of Alan and Galib Kurdi and their mother Rehana on Saturday during a public memorial held in Vancouver to remember the three refugees who drowned trying to escape war-torn Syria.

Family, public pack Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre to remember 3 refugee deaths

Vancouver Kurdi memorial 2:35

There was more anger and despair over the deaths of Alan and Galib Kurdi and their mother Rehana on Saturday at a public memorial held to honour the three refugees who drowned trying to escape war-torn Syria.

Hundreds of people, both family, friends and complete strangers took seats at Simon Fraser University's Habour Centre in downtown Vancouver to pray, reflect and hear stories about the family, who have gained the attention of people around the world.

All three drowned while trying to flee from the Syrian War, their boat — loaded with refugees — capsizing on its way to Greece.

It is the image of Alan Kurdi, 3, his lifeless body lying in the surf of a Turkish beach, that has many people asking for more to be done to help refugees.

Hundreds at a Vancouver memorial prayed and reflected on the deaths of Alan, Ghalib and Rehanna Kurdi. (CBC)

"Oh God, we failed to help a child in need, we refused him at our shores," was the opening prayer at the memorial. "So you gave him a better place. Forgive us for our shortcomings help us be the change we so desperately want to see."

Pam Garcia attended the service because she lives in the same Coquitlam neighbourhood as the boy's aunt, Tima Kurdi.

"It really hit close to home," she said. "And so I thought, it's time to be here. It's sad that it took one image to galvanize people."

Do something

William Booth and others attended because they wanted to help those caught in the Syrian conflict.

"The situation has been ongoing for a long time and a lot of people are suffering and we're in a position to do something about that and I think we should contribute," Boot said.

Those closest to the Kurdis seemed exhausted at the memorial, struggling to once again speak about their loss.

Family draped the stage at the memorial for the Kurdi family in Vancouver with pictures, memorabilia and candles. (CBC)

Tima Kurdi lit a candle for each of her deceased family members and, clearly still reeling from the chain of events she says she played a part in, spoke to the gathering.

"I said to [surviving father Abdullah Kurdi] I'm so sorry it was my fault because I sent him the money to pay the smuggler to cross that water," she said. "I thought if I didn't send him the money they could be alive today."

Heartbreaking stories

A family friend told the crowd that the boys' father used to buy a banana daily for his sons to share and, wants to continue buying them and laying the halves on their graves.

However, there were also messages of hope.

"Despite the tragedy we'd like to look at positive impact that came out of this," said Alan Karim, Tima Kurdi's son, who is Alan Kurdi's namesake.

"Alan became the symbol that opened the eyes of the world. We need to open our arms and help those in need. Rest in peace Alan, Galib and Rehana and those who have suffered as a result of this crisis."

With files from the CBC's Megan Batchelor

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.