Dozens of mourners gathered at Rocky View Garden of Peace cemetery on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Maryam Rashidi.
Rashidi was killed in June of 2015 when she tried to stop a man from driving away from the Centex gas station she was working at without paying for fuel.
“I know there was conversation about, yeah she should not have done that. But this is nonsense,” said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, who spoke at the service.
“At that time, she felt something wrong was happening and she was trying to correct it.”
Friends called Rashidi a brave and intelligent woman. She is being remembered as a mother and engineer, who took a job at a gas station to support her family.
“A mom who was trying to put food on the table. A mom who was trying to right a wrong. A mom who sacrificed her life for the well-being of her kid,” said memorial organizer, Ehsan Hosseini.
Memorial organizers want to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. They’re asking for a provincial pay-before-you-pump law, and for employers to promote better safety through training.
“We can correct it for the newcomers in the future that they know their rights. They should know their rights,” said family friend, Gina Masnadi.
“We can correct it with law and legislation about the gas stations, that people should get trained and know their rights.
“One of the things is remembering Maryam as a friend and as a brave lady. And also giving this message to the community that we should be supporting each other,” said Masnadi.
Those at the service want to know what has changed in Alberta since Rashidi died two years ago. After her death, the provincial government said it would look into pay at the pump legislation.
“We are still in mourning. We still feel that she really died for no reason. And we are hoping that should be prevented,” said Birjandian,
On May 5, Joshua Mitchell was acquitted of second degree murder in connection with Rashidi’s death. Instead, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter. A decision that isn’t sitting well with people who knew Rashidi.
“There has been some uneasiness about that decision that they feel that the punishment that this man is going to face does not really fit the crime that he committed. But at the same time, we have our faith in Canadian justice and I would urge everybody to do that,” said Birjandian.
Members of Calgary’s Iranian community are now making arrangements for Rashidi’s mother to travel to Calgary from Iran for Mitchell’s sentencing in August, and to finally see her daughter’s grave.
“She’s devastated. I was hoping that after two years she would be better and more settled, but unfortunately she is not,” Masnadi said of Rashidi’s mother.
Rashidi’s mother spoke to mourners at the graveside service from her home in Iran on Sunday. Despite her grief, she is finding some solace from the outpouring of support from the Calgary community, and knowing her daughter’s organs are now giving hope to six other families.
“She, by dying, she tried to prevent something that was wrong. But when she passed away she was killed, she actually saved six other lives,” said Birjandian.