March 31, 2014 12:41 pm
Updated: March 31, 2014 5:08 pm

Funeral today for Vancouver mother killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan

Roshan Thomas was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan.


Roshan Thomas, a mother, teacher and an optometrist from Vancouver, will be laid to rest today.

Thomas was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan on March 20. She was one of nine people shot dead after teenage gunmen opened fire on a luxury hotel in Kabul.

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Thomas leaves behind a long legacy of helping people not only B.C., but also in Afghanistan. She and her husband and family had been providing eye services to refugees and others in vulnerable communities, and in October 2003, they travelled to Afghanistan to open the country’s first independent school of excellence – the SPARKS Academy in Kabul.

Her funeral will be held Monday, March 31 at 12 p.m., at Headquarters Jamatkhana, 1250 Gladwin Drive, North Vancouver.

The Thomas family will arrive at 11 a.m. and last respects will commence at 12 p.m.

The public is asked to arrive anytime before 12.

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

1443 W 48th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6M 2P1

Or online at

Tax receipts will be provided.

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

The family has released a statement saying:

Today is a day of mourning and of thanksgiving for our family.

We mourn the departure of a beautiful soul, among eight others, including Zeenab Kassam of Calgary, who was taken from us at the dawn of the Afghan New Year in Kabul. We mourn that those who plan and commit these atrocities have never known the beauty of our faith, Islam, or of any other faith in the path of God. We mourn the loss of a remarkable woman who was both a leader and a servant, a teacher and a student, a friend and a mother.

We give thanks for the incredible outpouring of support, love and prayers, we have received from Canadians, Afghans, and others from around the world, which illustrate Roshan’s faith in the fundamental beauty and unity of humanity. We give thanks for the special messages we have received, and which have given us comfort and strength at this difficult time. We give thanks for the life that Roshan led, for the values she instilled in us, and for the example she set for us, her family, until her final breath.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank formally the Governments of Afghanistan, Canada and the United Kingdom; the leaders and members of the Ismaili Community in Afghanistan, Canada, and elsewhere; and the institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network for their dignified assistance in helping Roshan to come home for a final time, and for paying tribute to her life and her work.

Roshan always believed that her life would be judged based not on what she achieved, but what she enabled others to achieve. It was this ethic that drove her spirit of imaginative volunteerism in countries around the world, including Canada, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zambia. It is this spirit which will live in each one of us, as we strive to follow in her footsteps and to honour her life and legacy. Roshan is a Persian word meaning “light” or “bright”. Throughout her life, she was passionately committed to seeking light in everything that she did. It is our prayer that she need seek no more.

To learn more about Roshan’s life and work, please visit

Thank you.

-The Thomas family

© 2014 Shaw Media

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