Suete Chan was worldly, adventurous and courageous.
So adventurous, in fact, that in the summer of 2020, she decided to immigrate from Hong Kong to Canada, and call Nova Scotia home.
Last Wednesday morning, Chan was on her way to work in Dartmouth, when she was struck at a crosswalk on Pleasant Street.
The 27-year-old woman died in hospital.
“She worked really hard. And she was also very soft and gentle, and very kind, and she was kind of light-hearted. She wanted things to be happy and it was just very sweet,” said Tabitha Osler. She owns Fairechild, an environmentally-friendly clothing company based in Dartmouth.
In August 2020, Chan applied for a marketing manager position with the company “and was one of the best resumes that I reviewed,” Osler said.
“After interviewing several people, I offered her the position. And then we started working on integrating her here through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program.” After an intense application process, Chan arrived in Canada earlier this year. She was mere days away from her 28th birthday when she died.
Two days ago, Osler set up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign for Chan’s family, with an original goal of $35,000. It has surpassed $85,000. The money raised will help Chan’s parents make the trip from Hong Kong to Canada to claim her remains and belongings. Chan was her parents’ only child.
“They must bear the cost of last minute travel and extended accommodation — to meet public health quarantine requirements. Costs will be in the thousands of dollars,” the GoFundMe page reads.
Osler felt compelled to organize the fundraising effort because she wanted to support Chan’s family the best way she could. As Chan’s sponsor through the immigration process, Osler said she feels like Chan’s link to her home away from home.
“I feel fully responsible for her. I feel like I was her mother away from home. I’m only 10 years older than her, but I definitely feel like I am now the family that has to take care of her here, even though she’s gone,” she said. “I don’t know how you could continue on in your life after this, so it gives them maybe one one less thing to worry about for a short amount of time.”
‘How do we prevent this from happening again?’
The driver of the vehicle that hit Chan, a 41-year-old woman, was issued a summary offence ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
During a Transportation Standing Committing last Thursday, Dartmouth councillor Tony Mancini brought up the fatal collision — urging discussion on safety in the area.
“What happened? How do we prevent this from happening again? Did we do something wrong? Could we have done something better? These are all the questions I have and I’m sure my colleagues and staff have also,” he said.
In 2019, a pedestrian was struck in the same stretch of road in a hit-and-run. In that case, the driver was eventually sentenced to six months in jail and two years probation.
Meanwhile, Osler and her husband have been working with the funeral home, making arrangements for Chan’s family when they arrive.
She’s also hoping to offer whatever comfort she can — as they grieve together.
“I just feel like, you know, she just kind of got snatched from us, and and I just want her back,” she said.
“That’s all I can think of, is that I just want her to be back. And I just want this nightmare to end.”
—With a file from Aya Al-Hakim