'I just want justice,' Yosif Al-Hasnawi's mother speaks at vigil

Students, faculty, supporters and Yosif Al-Hasnawi's family gather at Brock University to remember the young man who lost his life to a gunshot last Saturday in Hamilton.

Brock University students, faculty gather with family of slain young man

Amal Alzurufi, right, said she has filed a formal complaint about how paramedics responded when her son, Yosif Al-Hasnawi, was shot in downtown Hamilton on Saturday. (Flora Pan/CBC)

Students, faculty, supporters and Yosif Al-Hasnawi's family gathered at Brock University on Friday to remember the young man who lost his life to a gunshot last Saturday in Hamilton.

The vigil began shortly after 3 p.m. ET in the Pond Inlet, a hall at the university in St. Catherines, Ont. Speakers one after another spoke kindly of Al-Hasnawi, from the president of the university to his mother.

I'm very disappointed. It should not happen, especially here in Canada.— Amal Alzurufi, victim's mother

"He had a beautiful life ahead of him, it was just taken away like this," said Amal Alzurufi, his mother. She was joined by her two younger sons, Ahmed Al-Hasnawi and Mahdi Al-Hasnawi. As she spoke, she made frequent pauses to hold back her tears.

Alzurufi's first-born son was 19 when he was shot and killed, close to a downtown Islamic centre, after becoming involved in a confrontation between an older man and two people. 

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with his death. Dale Burningsky King appeared in court on Friday morning on a charge of second-degree murder. He was not granted bail.

Al-Hasnawi's family stood off to the side throughout the vigil, held at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ont., on Friday. (Flora Pan/CBC)

'Be kind to each other'

Not everyone at the vigil knew Al-Hasnawi personally. A mother who also lost her son while he was attending Brock was also there to support the family.

"I just felt his mother's pain and wanted to support the family," Ray Ring said. Her son died nine years ago.

"Keep your friends around you, they'll help you," were Ring's words for Al-Hasnawi's family.

The vigil was attended by university students, faculty, staff and other supporters. (Flora Pan/CBC)

Kinesiology student Chance Mutuku went to the vigil with his friends, despite not knowing Al-Hasnawi personally.

"When things like this happen, it's a reminder to us to be kind to each other, and to always stand up for other people as well."

The university said it is accepting donations for a memorial fund, which will be used to establish a scholarship in Al-Hasnawi's name.

The vigil was organized by the university's Student Justice Centre. (Flora Pan/CBC)

'A whole bright life'

The paramedics who treated Al-Hasnawi have been criticized for how long it took them to take the young man to hospital. His mother is now looking for answers.

"I'm very disappointed. It should not happen, especially here in Canada. It shouldn't happen," Alzurufi told reporters after the vigil.

She said she had filed a formal complaint with the Hamilton Paramedic Service.

Hosan Helal, the associate Muslim chaplain at Brock, was one of five speakers at the vigil. (Flora Pan/CBC)

"He had a whole bright life in front of him, and it was taken due to some neglect," she said. 

Hosam Helal, the associate Muslim chaplain at Brock University, said the Islamic centre and the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, one of Hamilton's largest mosques, will be involved with the complaint.

He said he hopes by asking questions about how people in situations like the one Al-Hasnawi was in are treated, there will be an improvement of "the future dealings in terms of emergency care."

Alzurufi said she appreciates the co-operation from paramedics.

"I just want justice for my son."

About the Author

Flora Pan


Flora Pan is a multimedia journalist based in southern Ontario. She currently works out of Windsor. You can reach her at flora.pan@cbc.ca or on Twitter @FloraTPan.

With files from Samantha Craggs