New Brunswick

Fundraising underway for St. FX prof's children

Friends of a St. Francis Xavier University professor who was killed in her home in Antigonish, N.S., earlier this month are trying to raise money for her five daughters.

Friends of a St. Francis Xavier University professor who was killed in her home in Antigonish, N.S., earlier this month are trying to raise money for her five daughters.

Since March 16, friends from across the Maritimes have been coming to the aid of her children, who range in age from three to 23. The children lost the financial support of both parents in a single day.

In Antigonish Friday night, friends and colleagues gathered for a fundraiser in her memory. One of Chareka's daughters attends St. FX and plays basketball, and the event was organized by parents of her teammates.

Chareka, 42, moved to New Brunswick from Zimbabwe, where she was the first girl in her clan to complete high school. Because her teacher training was not recognized in Canada, she put herself through the University of New Brunswick, working at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton as a maid to earn tuition money.

She obtained her master's degree in education in 1994, and returned to Zimbabwe to teach, before coming back to Canada to complete her PhD in 2001.

During her tenure at the university, Chareka taught a variety of courses in the bachelor of education and master of education programs. She was also a driving force in the implementation of a part-time bachelor of education program for African Nova Scotian Learners and the Mi'kmaw Kinamatnewey School Improvement Program.

'She always was welcoming'

Jennipher Chitate, who lives in Saint John, N.B., spoke to Chareka almost daily by phone. Both from Zimbabwe, they met in New Brunswick through a mutual friend.

Chitate said Chareka was exuberant with a contagious sense of optimism and faith.

"She always was welcoming. She was always there to reach out to uplift, to empower. When I met her, I always left happy, smiling or empowered, or with an idea to do something," said Chitate.

Chitate's idea now is to spread the word that Chareka's five daughters need financial support — now and into the future.

Chitate said the oldest daughter wants to fly back to Zimbabwe with her mother's body, which could cost as much as $20,000.

"She's gone, but we can't let evil defeat us. We have to show the kids that there's good, and that we do care," said Chitate.

A memorial fund has been established by St. FX, set up by the university's education faculty.

Her academic biography and photographs are still up on the faculty's website, along with information on how to donate to the fund.

The UNB Faculty of Education will host a memorial service in Fredericton on April 20.

Chareka's husband, Patrick Chareka, has been charged with first-degree murder.