Family speaks out ahead of first anniversary of deadly attack in London, Ont.

Kira Stephani of Oshawa, Ont. talks with her daughters Aisha Sayyed and Aliyah Sayyed at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins. Geoff Robins

A southwestern Ontario community has provided “hope and strength” over the past year to the relatives of a Muslim family killed in an alleged hate-motivated attack.

The statement from the Afzaal family comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of the deaths of four members approaches.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, died after police say they were deliberately hit by a truck during an evening walk on June 6, 2021, in London, Ont.

The family’s nine-year-old boy was hurt, but survived. A 21-year-old man faces four counts of first-degree murder in what prosecutors say was an act of terrorism. The case has not yet gone to trial.

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“To lose 3 generations of our family was a catastrophe, but our community came together and has provided us with hope and strength,” wrote Umar Afzaal, Salman’s brother, in a statement on behalf of the rest of the family.

“It is with this strength we have been able to continue forward.”

There are a number of events planned to commemorate the family’s deaths, including a gymnasium dedication, youth march and a memorial unveiling at the site of the crash.

The family said it continues to struggle without their loved ones.

“It is the deepest sadness when you realize that the people who gave you the best memories, have become but a memory,” Umar Afzaal wrote.

“Missing you all, our beloved family, is a heartache that will never go away.”

The family called the attack a “heinous act” that remains difficult to comprehend.

“As a family, we have always believed in equality and freedom from all forms of discrimination on account of race, colour or creed,” Umar Afzaal said.

“In our view, June 6th 2021 marked a day when life was not only taken from 4 innocent people, but from the whole of humanity. We, the Afzaal family, condemn all types of violence motivated by hatred.”

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The family said it has faith in the justice system as the case wends its way through court.

“We look forward to seeing justice served,” the family said.

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