Dr. Elana Fric honoured at Toronto domestic violence vigil

Slain family physician was honoured Wednesday night at a Queen's Park vigil held in memory of 'all those who have experienced abuse.'

Domestic violence advocates say her death 'is not an isolated event'

Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji was a family doctor in Scarborough and a mother of three. (Twitter)

While the death of Dr. Elana Fric has rocked Ontario's medical community and sparked conversations about intimate partner violence, a domestic violence advocate said that these kinds of deaths are "all too common."

"It's important we take this moment to honour her, but also to draw attention to the epidemic that is violence against women," said Mohini Datta-Ray, executive director of the North York Women's Shelter.

A candlelight vigil held outside Queen's Park Wednesday paid tribute to Fric and "all those who have experienced abuse." 

Radical loss

"We lose women to violence every six days in the country," Datta-Ray said to those gathered in the cold. "It is in this context we must understand Elana Fric's death. Her death has received the attention that the murders of hundreds of women also killed at the hands of their violent partners in this country do not."

"Let us use this moment to act to make sure the outrageous tragedy of domestic violence is one that we stop in our lifetime."

Deaths stemming from intimate partner violence are "all too common," says Mohini Datta-Ray, executive director of the North York Women's Shelter. (Mohini Datta-Ray)

From November 2015 to November 2016, data compiled by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses shows at least 26 women in Ontario died due to "femicide," or the "intentional murder of women because they are women."

Many of these women were allegedly killed by their husbands, boyfriends or other intimate partners, the data shows.

"No ethnic group, no socio-economic group, is free of this problem," said Marc Hull-Jacquin, executive director of Shelter Movers, a volunteer-based organization that helps move people experiencing abuse.

The service organized Wednesday night's vigil.

"Although violence of this nature, statistically, might occur to women of colour or women in poverty, Dr. Fric's death shows us no community is immune to this issue," Hull-Jacquin added.

Fric being laid to rest on Saturday

second vigil in Fric's honour is being held on Thursday night in Windsor, Ont., near where she grew up in the town of Tecumseh.

Her funeral is also being held in Windsor this Saturday at St. Francis of Assisi Croatian Catholic Church.

Joseph Fric, her father, told the CBC there will be two busloads of doctors coming to attend the service.

Fric, a respected family physician in Scarborough, Ont. and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, died from strangulation and blunt-force trauma.

Mohammed Shamji (far right) during his Dec. 3 court appearance at Toronto's Old City Hall. He is remanded in custody. (Pam Davies)

Her husband, Toronto neurosurgeon Dr. Mohammed Shamji, is in custody on first-degree murder charges. He had previously been charged with one count of assault and two counts of uttering death threats in 2005.

Fric was planning to divorce Shamji before her death.

With files from Sonya Varma and Julia Whalen