Vancouver mother, doctor, killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan

WATCH (above): Condolences are pouring in tonight for Roshan Thomas, the Vancouver woman killed in an attack in Afghanistan. John Daly has the story of her life and legacy.

Roshan Thomas, a teacher and an optometrist from Vancouver, was one of the Canadians killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.

Sources have confirmed to Global National that Thomas was one of two Canadians killed when gunmen opened fire on a luxury hotel in Kabul.

Thomas’ husband, Dr. Rahim (Roger) Thomas is an ophthalmologist in Richmond. The couple have three children.

“She was doing what she loved to do,” said Samira Thomas, Roshan’s daughter. “She spent her life living the ethics of her faith and part of that meant going and serving communities that she felt she could enable in helping them. So she was running early childhood development centres there, and she had been for the last 10 years.”

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Her son, Karim, said one of the things that was always important to his mother was that educated Afghan people gave back to their country. “Some of the students, there are students there right now actually, who have done exactly that, and there are others back here in Canada who have done that already.”

Foreign Affairs will only say two Canadians died.

Senator Mobina Jaffer tweeted that her friend worked hard for the education of Afghan girls:

She also tweeted that Roshan was about to become a grandmother for the first time.

Roshan and her husband had a long history of working in Afghanistan, providing eye services to refugees and others in vulnerable communities.

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In 2003 October, Roshan and her family travelled to Afghanistan to open the country’s first independent school of excellence – the SPARKS Academy in Kabul.

WATCH: Two of Roshan’s children and some of her students talk about her work and legacy.

They had started working in refugee camps in Pakistan years before, delivering eye care to those in need, and that is where they first came to know about the Afghan people and what their country was going through.

Global News has learned teenage gunmen gained access to the tightly-secured Serena Hotel in Kabul by telling security they wanted to enjoy Nowruz, the Persian New Year celebrated in Afghanistan.

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Sources say the gunmen waited three hours until the restaurant was full before attacking foreigners at around 9:45 p.m. local time. Nine people were killed in total.

Thomas’ colleagues, who were also at the hotel, were offered refuge and assistance at the Canadian embassy, located 3.2 kilometres from the hotel.

WATCH: Video of Roshan Thomas provided by her family.

Sources told Global News the second Canadian victim is from Calgary.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued the following statement about the attack:

“Canada condemns this brazen and cowardly terrorist attack on the Serena Hotel, in Kabul, which has claimed the lives of many and left several people injured.

“On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of two Canadian citizens who were killed in this attack.

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“Many of these people dedicated their lives to helping everyday Afghans build a better country for themselves, including education, and enhancing the role of women and girls in Afghan society. For this selfless work to be met with violence, especially on the occasion of Nowruz, just further proves the depravity of the Taliban and those who support them.

“Acts of terror must not go unpunished, and those who perpetrated and supported this violence must be held accountable.

“While events like this highlight the security challenges that remain in parts of Afghanistan, it only strengthens our resolve to combat the scourge of terrorism in all its forms.

“Canadian consular officials in Kabul are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance.

“Due to privacy concerns, and out of respect for the families of those Canadians killed in today’s attack, further information will not be made available.”

The funeral for Roshan will be held Monday, March 31 at 12, at Headquarters Jamatkhana, 1250 Gladwin Drive, North Vancouver.

The Thomas family will arrive at 11 am and last respects will commence at 12 noon.

The public is asked to arrive anytime before 12.

Donations can also be made to Roshan’s foundation, the Sparks Humanitarian Society at:

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1443 W 48th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6M 2P1

Or online at

Cheques made out to Sparks Humanitarian Society can also be sent to the same address.


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