A GoFundMe page set up for the Surrey teen killed in last Friday’s storm has raised more than $23,000 so far.
He is being remembered as a “beautiful soul” whose “kindness touched so many lives” on a memorial page.
Shakir Salaam died after a tree fell on him at Clayton Heights Secondary just before 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 14.
Surrey’s deputy Fire Chief Larry Thomas said when first responders arrived they found Shakir in a wooded area near the school, with a tree on top of him. At the time, a wind warning from Environment Canada was in effect. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance but didn’t survive.
Soon after, a donation page was started in his honour.
Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.
Local mom Tammy Larson started the campaign and told the Now she did so because “this could have been any of our kids.”
“My son goes to Clayton Heights Secondary school and he was in the portables just an hour before,” said Larson. “We never expect to send our kid to school and never to see them alive again.
“I’ve been to the family’s home twice now for their prayer vigil,” she continued. “I talked to his nanny who helped raise him after his mother passed away and she just keeps ruminating on when Shakir gave her a backwards hug that day going to school. She said he held her so tightly.
“It puts a lump in your throat,” said Larson. “I have had an unfortunate event where we had police come to our door to tell us a family member has been killed. I know that feeling…. That was for my older sister. I can’t even imagine for a 16-year-old young boy.”
The outpouring of community support has been incredible, she said, and suspects it’s because the school has lost several children.
“The day before Shakir was killed the school had just done an anniversary of the date when two years ago two well-loved students, (Chantal MacLean and her boyfriend Cody Kehler, both 17) were going to Thanksgiving dinner and they were killed,” she said. “They just commemorated that anniversary on Thursday and then he was killed. The school is reeling.
“That is just too much for a community and too much for a school to be able to cope with…. You can see by the amount of money coming in so quickly, it’s really the first chance for the community to rally around a family.”
Shakir’s classmates have already organized an event in his honour.
On Monday, many students wore black hats to school, as it was his trademark, said Larson.
“Even the principal said they had many conversations about taking the hat off in school,” she added, chuckling.
A candlelight vigil is planned on Friday at 7 p.m. at Clayton Heights Secondary (6965 188 St.) in the common area. Media is asked to stay off the property.
Flammable candles won’t be allowed but battery-operated candles will be provided, and donations will be collected to go toward the fundraising campaign.
The final goal, said Larson, is $26,000 to cover memorial initiatives. They include a 16-year rugby bursary (as Shakir was on the school’s rugby team), a water well in Africa and donations to BC Children’s Hospital and the Heart and Stroke Foundation because Shakir had two open heart surgeries as a baby and used to say every year he got to live on this earth was because of them.
Larson also plans to make donations to the Muslim food bank and a local mosque. A memorial bench is also in the works. And a slew businesses are stepping up to help with various initiatives including Tim Hortons, Hillcrest Mall, Starbucks, Save-On Foods and Costco in Langley.
“It’s bigger than what I started,” said Larson. “I just started the movement…. It’s the spirit of this wonderful community that is propelling this forward.”
Meanwhile, Surrey RCMP and BC Coroner’s Service are investigating Shakir’s death.
(Shakir Salaam and his rugby team. Photo: SUBMITTED)
– With files from Beau Simpson