London

Memorial for Afzaal family cleaned up as city and family eye permanent way to honour victims

While plans to create a permanent memorial to honour members of London's Afzaal family are underway, the city wants to make sure the roadside memorial remains in top shape.

People are still encouraged to leave flowers and keepsakes which will be presented to the family

The roadside memorial for the Afzaal family was cleaned up on Wednesday. The city says any toys and keepsakes will be presented to the family. Flowers are being composted and will also be preserved for the family's use. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

While plans are underway to create a permanent memorial to honour members of London's Afzaal family who were tragically killed in an alleged hate-motivated attack last month, the city wants to make sure the roadside memorial remains in top shape and that keepsakes are preserved.

On Wednesday, City of London staff, along with representatives of the the London Muslim Mosque and the Afzaal family, began the process of removing old flowers and tokens left at one corner of Hyde Park and South Carriage roads in the city's northwest.

It was just over a month ago when Talat Afzaal, her son Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman and the couple's 15-year-old daughter, Yumna, were killed at the intersection when a 20-year-old driver, who police said was motivated by hate, ran them over.  

The couple's son, 9-year-old Fayez, was injured in the attack and was sent to hospital but has since been released and is recovering.

The memorial at the site of the attack was filled with flowers, stuffed toys and messages of hope. (Greg Bruce/CBC)

Since the attack, thousands of people have made their way to the site to grieve and honour the family, often leaving flowers, toys, keepsakes and messages of hope at the roadside memorial. 

"Toys and keepsakes and mementos have been collected and they will be given to the family," said Coun. Josh Morgan.

"The older flowers and plant material is going to be composted and that compost is going to be kept separate and made available to the family for their use," he said, adding the city will be tidying up the roadside memorial, with respect and care, on a regular basis.

Morgan said people are still welcome to continue to visit the site and leave their tokens or whatever they feel is right to pay their proper respects. 

"It is a very moving experience to be in a site where this attack happened and to know that some of our friends and neighbours lost their lives there under these horrific circumstances, so people are still really hurting," Morgan said. 

The city is in conversation with representatives of the Afzaal family and the Muslim community to eventually establish a permanent memorial. However, plans are being made at the pace the family is comfortable with, said Morgan. 

"Eventually, there will be something permanent done, something respectful, something that aligns with [the family's] wishes," he said.

"I don't know what that is yet, but as people have submitted thoughts and ideas, which I've gotten many, they have all been deferred into that process ... that allows us to engage with the family to ensure what we do is something that, first off, they want and that is representative, respectful and true to the character of those who we lost."

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