London

Letters of hope for Fayez: Here's how you can send a message of encouragement to survivor of London attack

Islamic Relief Canada is hoping to compile messages of hope for nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal, the lone survivor of a fatal, hate-motivated attack on a London, Ont., family. 

People are asked to refrain from sending messages of condolences or grief

Mourners place flowers at the scene of a hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ontario on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, which left four members of a family dead and sent one to hospital. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press)

A national charity is hoping to compile messages of hope for nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal, the lone survivor of a fatal, hate-motivated attack on a London, Ont., family. 

"To have your entire family taken from you in such a way, I know it's not going to be easy for him. I know there's going to be times where he's going to ask himself 'Why?'," said Saimah Sarwar, the funds coordinator for Islamic Relief Canada's southwestern Ontario chapter.

"This is just a little, small token from us so that he can have something there and see the outpour of messages ... And we hope that they'll give him a little bit of happiness when he's in a time of reflection and he needs to hear these things." 

The charity has set up an online form people can fill out and send a message of support and encouragement to the young boy. 

On Monday, a family friend told CBC News Fayez had been released from hospital and was under the care of his relatives. The nine-year-old boy is expected to recover, although it's going to take time.

The four members of Fayez's immediate family, Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and her grandmother Talat Afzaal, were killed earlier this month when they were run down by a man in a pickup truck in an attack police say was premeditated and motivated by hate due to the family's Muslim faith. 

A 20-year-old London man is facing four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder along with terrorism charges. 

The charity is asking people to refrain from sending messages of condolences or grief. 

"We just want messages of hope, messages of love, messages that you would want him to read maybe a year, or five years down the road and just let them know we're there for him and that he is a strong person," Sarwar said.

"We don't want to remind him of what happened and remind him of what he's lost. It's more of what you have going forward."

Flowers on the steps of the London Islamic Centre show the outpouring of support shown for the city's Muslim community in the wake of Sunday's hit-and-run attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Sarwar said they will be going through each message to make sure they're appropriate. The messages will then be added to a book that will be passed on the the London Muslim Mosque who will give it to Fayez.

As of Tuesday, with just hours of setting up the online form, almost 100 messages of support had been sent, Sarwar said.  

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