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School resumes at Oakridge Secondary as staff and students remember one of their own | CBC News

At the start of a new school year, students and teachers at Oakridge Secondary School in London, Ont., are remembering Yumna Afzaal, who died in the city’s truck attack on June 6.

Afzaal would have been starting grade 10 this year.

“I really wish that I could be going to school with my best friend right now,” said Huda Sallam, who is currently in grade 10 at Oakridge.

Four members of the Afzaal family died when a black truck struck them while they were out for an evening walk. The driver faces four first-degree murder charges, one attempted murder charge and associated terrorism charges. Police and prosecutors allege the attack was an act of anti-Muslim hate. 

Huda Sallam was best friends with Yumna Afzaal, who would have been in grade 10 at Oakridge Secondary School this year. (Submitted by Mike Phillips)

Sallam still struggles with grief and is grateful for the support she has so far received, she said.

“I would not be even a little bit OK if I didn’t have the support not only from Oakridge, but from my Muslim community, from the London community, from just my friends and family,” said Sallam.

“Overall, I’ve had so many people just being there for me. And it’s been amazing.” 

Yumna Afzaal, 15, left, Madiha Salman, 44, centre left, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal, 46, right, were out for an evening walk when they were run over by a man who police say was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. (Submitted by Afzaal family)

School creates a welcoming, inclusive culture

“We have a safe and inclusive school plan where we’re going to have themed days throughout the year,” said Oakridge Principal Mike Phillips. “These days are going to focus on mental health and equity and trauma-sensitive approaches so that all students feel welcome here and that they belong here and they know they belong,”

Mike Phillips is the principal at Oakridge Secondary School (Submitted by Mike Phillips)

Phillips said Oakridge is working with the Muslim Student Association to foster an inclusive environment at the school.

“Our ultimate goal is we’d like to show students and families that we care deeply,” he said, “and we want to develop these relationships that are formed and founded in love.”

London Morning11:08Checking in with an Oakridge Secondary School student headed back to class following the tragic attack that killed the Afzaal family in June.

Oakridge student Huda Sallam was close friends with Yumna Afzaal who was killed in a vehicular attack this June. Sallam and Oakridge Secondary School Principal Mike Phillips join London Morning to discuss what it feels like coming back to school after the attack. 11:08

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