Calgary's Eritrean community holds vigil for late rapper Nipsey Hussle

Well over 100 members of Calgary's Eritrean community held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night for a murdered American rapper they called a brother.

'He made such an impact'

Calgary's Eritrean community held a vigil Wednesday night for Nipsey Hussle, an American rapper of Eritrean descent who was killed in a shooting in the past few days. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Well over 100 members of Calgary's Eritrean community held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday to remember an American rapper they called a brother.

Nipsey Hussle, who was shot to death Sunday in Los Angeles, was as well respected as a hip-hop artist as he was for his philanthropic work.

"When we all heard about his death, it was tragic," Calgarian Ariam Wolde-Giorgis said.

"A lot of us really felt it, and it really showed that he made such an impact, that we are all willing, around the world, to hold these candlelight vigils."

Hussle, whose real named was Ermias Asghedom, was an advocate for members of the Eritrean diaspora. He also was known for his community building skills.

Hussle had earned a Grammy nomination for best rap album this year for "Victory Lap," his major-label debut.

At the candlelight vigil in Calgary beside the Bow River in Eau Claire, people lit candles and released balloons. It was one of many held worldwide.

Members of Calgary's Eritrean community released balloons to mark the death of Nipsy Hussle. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Hussle was killed the day before he was scheduled to meet with the police chief in Los Angeles about improving the relationship between police and the inner city.

Police have arrested a suspect, and say the shooting was not gang-related.

Hussle leaves behind two children and a fiance.

His message to put community first resonated with Wolde-Giorgis, the vice president of YYC Eritreans, a local non-profit that supports Eritrean youth.

Nipsy Hussle died on the weekend. The Eritrean community honoured him on Wednesday as a community leader. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"We want to celebrate Nipsy Hussle," she said. "[He] was a true champion, and really spoke and represented our Eritrean community. We're a small African country with a small population that's growing throughout North America. And he, more so than anyone, made an impact and celebrated and represented our country."

In particular, she said he understood the issues immigrants face in North America, as well as the challenges young, black people do, as well.

"He understood that those are barriers that are really hard to overcome but focus on what he could do to create opportunities," Wolde-Giorgis said.

Hussle was considered a self-made musician. He sold mixtapes out of the trunk of his car for nearly a decade before getting his break.

Emmanuel Mengistu said he came to the vigil to remember an artist who was "only for the people and not only for himself."

"What he means to our community is very significant in a generation where some people forget where they come from, and he was not one to do that," he said.

Mengistu said he had the chance to meet Hussle on a few occasions, at a concert and at his shop in LA, and found him inspiring.

"Down to earth, personable, I was talking to him like he was my friend I had 10 to 15 years. I felt like we spoke the same language even though we're not from the same part of town, just because of the mindset he had," Mengistu said.

With files from Justin Pennell


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