A number of memorial events have been organized throughout London in honour of the Afzaals, two years after the deadly attack on the Muslim family.
On June 6, 2021, four members of the Afzaal family were murdered and a nine-year-old was orphaned, allegedly at the hands of Nathaniel Veltman, who was 20-years-old at the time. Veltman allegedly drove his pickup truck over the curb at Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road, running the family down as they waited to cross the street. Police later confirmed that it was a premeditated, hate-motivated attack.
Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and the couple's 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal were killed. Salman and Madiha's nine-year-old son was the only survivor.
Veltman was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. His trial has been set for September 5, 2023 in Windsor.
The Afzaals have since been affectionately named "Our London Family." The intersection where the family members were killed was reclaimed by the community and transformed into a "Memorial Plaza," complete with a mural by Muslim artists.
The area will be fully closed as of 8 a.m. on June 6 to make room for Londoners who wish to pay their respects.
Our London Family Vigil is set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and expects to see hundreds of community members attend the area.
Parking is available at The Real Canadian Superstore at 1205 Oxford St. or Lowe's North Location at 1335 Fanshawe Rd. W. Shuttle buses will do three pickups at each location from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. and return between 9 and 10 p.m.
If this year's event is hit once again by extreme weather, it will be moved indoors to Oakridge Secondary School.
At the time of her death, 15-year-old Yumnah was a student at Oakridge Secondary School, part of the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB).
The school board is observing June 6 by lowering flags to half-staff, displaying messages of support, and encouraging staff and students to wear purple and green. TVDSB will also facilitate a moment of silence and a 15-minute walk in memory of the Afzaals.
An event will take place at the TVDSB Education Centre on Tuesday, at which Director of Education Mark Fisher will make an announcement on the board's commitment to fighting Islamophobia.
"Thames Valley stands in solidarity with the Muslim community against Islamophobia, on June 6 and every day,” Fisher said. “We will continue to take action against this harmful form of discrimination as part of our ongoing commitment to equity, inclusion and human rights.”
In the days leading up to June 6, there will be a number of dedicated initiatives throughout the city.
The London Muslim Mosque is hosting two information sessions to help folks better understand their religion. A "Why Islam" Q&A session will take place Saturday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. where guests can learn about the faith from local Imams and get a tour of the first and oldest mosque in Ontario.
On Sunday at 4 p.m., public figures Amira Elghawaby and Ginella Massa will present "Breaking Barriers: Confronting Islamophobia." This event is free to the public, funded by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
Registration for both London Muslim Mosque events is available online.
Museum London has an exhibition from June 3 to December 10 called "London Remembers," which is a tribute to the Afzaal family. The display was created by local artist Aruba Mahmud along with the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia.
Other initiatives such as workshops, a tree planting, and an open house at Our London Family Gym are also planned before June 6. A full list of memorial events can be found on the city's website.
For those who wish to pay their respects but can't attend a local event, a Toronto-based artist is holding an online letter writing campaign for the second year.
Asim Hussain, also known as @studentAsim, created a digital space at islamophobia.io where writers can share their experiences in or with the Muslim community. The purpose, Hussain says, is to "foster outreach and more understanding." The City of London continues to endorse the letter campaign in their Our London Family community resources.
Last year, letters were submitted from coast to coast, in various languages, and from writers 10 to 80-years-old. This year, Hussain hopes even more Canadians will contribute to the campaign, insisting that "words matter" and can be "agents of change, affecting the present and the future."
To submit a written reflection or write a letter to one of the Afzaal family members, visit @studentAsim's website.
Other initiatives happening in London on June 6 include City Hall and the JA Taylor Building being lit up in purple and green. The city will also fly flags at half-staff that day.
A special "Our London Family" flag will be flown at City Hall from June 7 to 11 to keep the conversation around Islamophobia going after the second anniversary of the hate-motivated attack passes by.