Family of Toronto van attack victim launches foundation to end violence against women

The family of a woman killed in the Toronto van attack has launched a charity in her name to help women suffering from violence and abuse. The Anne Marie D'Amico foundation will support the North York Women's Shelter in its first year of existence.

Anne Marie D'Amico 1 of 10 killed in attack, foundation to raise $3M for women's shelter

Anne Marie D'Amico, who worked for an investment management firm, was one of 10 people killed in the April van attack. (Facebook)

The family of a woman killed in the Toronto van attack has launched a foundation in her name to help women suffering from violence and abuse.

Anne Marie D'Amico was among the 10 people killed in the van attack that struck Toronto's north end in April.

The Anne Marie D'Amico Foundation was launched on Dec. 3, which would have been D'Amico's 31st birthday.

Following her death, D'Amico's friends and family described her as a cheerful, friendly person and a dedicated volunteer.

"I think her spirit is something that's going to live on," her brother Nick D'Amico told CBC Radio's Here and Now this week. "That was really what we were trying to capture here."

In its mission to end violence and abuse against women, the foundation will begin by raising money for the North York Women's Shelter, which is in the process of building a new facility through a new campaign.

"Everyone at North York Women's Shelter is deeply moved and very honoured that the Anne Marie D'Amico Foundation has chosen our HER Campaign to be the beneficiary of their fundraising," wrote Mohini Datta-Ray​, the shelter's executive director.

"[The family] is creating a powerful legacy in Anne Marie's name that will help so many women and children impacted by violence and help put an end to gender-based violence itself," she added.

Foundation is 'grounding point' for family

"It's appropriate for the kind of situation that happened to my daughter," said Rocco D'Amico, Anne Marie's father.

"Rather than sprinkling our hard work throughout various organizations, we've decided to focus on this particular organization," he said. "They do great work."

The foundation is hoping to raise $3 million for the new facility.

There are also plans to host an annual fundraiser, called the Turtle Project, on D'Amico's birthday. The event will feature entertainment and stories from survivors of abuse.

"Just having this foundation as a bit of a cornerstone, a bit of a grounding point for us, has really kind of brought us through a lot of the darkness," Nick D'Amico said.

"This will be what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life," Rocco D'Amico added.

Alek Minassian, 26, of Richmond Hill, Ont., is facing 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection to the attack.

His trial is scheduled to begin in February 2020.