She was slain on Yonge Street on Monday, but Thursday’s funeral held in a parkette drew thousands of mourners

To end — so tragically — was to begin.

The sun rose Thursday at Yonge and Finch Streets, the street where Ali Houssain was killed during an attack that had begun almost two hours earlier, and lines of other mourners filed through at El Morocco funeral home in a small parkette at Yonge and Finch. A little after 10:30 a.m., people stood under umbrellas, staring in at the funeral home and the tree that blocked Yonge Street, until the vast amount of emotion mingled the street and the gathering.

“I was very angry that people didn’t stand in solidarity,” one woman said, her voice heavy. “I understand Yonge Street was closed, but people should have come out and done something.”

By the end of the event, it was clear that those people had stood in solidarity with Houssain. Two Muslim funeral directors had condemned the incident, the chants of the crowd had died down, and a man wearing a Detroit Tigers cap looked up at the sky with a puzzled look on his face.

It was something close to a real-time memorial. The moment of silence that followed indicated just how large this tragedy was to everyone who had stood in a parkette at Yonge and Finch, and now stood near the family cemetery in north Toronto.

“You know what it means? It means she was a good person. She was a very good person,” said Waleed Hussat, Houssain’s husband, before stopping to wail. “She never complained. She was caring. She was responsible. She was fun. She was wonderful. She was beautiful. She was a rock.”

A woman leaning on a cigarette broke in to dab at her eyes. Another woman gasped and stared at the ground, speechless.

Few in the crowd, however, seemed to have his or her eyes peeled as close as the man wearing the Tigers cap. He was smiling, no doubt, with a tugging of his shirt collar, surrounded by a sea of strangers.

In his hands was a green wristband adorned with “#JusticeForAli.” It read “13.9.18.” The date of Houssain’s death was 13.9.18, and the wristband also read “Peace.”

Houssain was only 38 years old. She was taken from her home with three young children and then dragged, in a van that sped off at speeds of up to 80 mph before hitting dozens more pedestrians along Yonge Street on Monday evening. One of those pedestrians was Houssain’s best friend.

Houssain was a Muslim, and this was a week where the entire nation, a place of 6 million Muslims, was reeling from the attacks that took eight lives, injured 16 and marked a new type of terrorism to Canada. It wasn’t the first time someone killed a Muslim and then set out to assuage his or her memory — or, to anyone, necessarily, to advance Islam’s cause. But Houssain, and anyone whose life was cut short by Thursday’s violence, are only the latest victims to have left behind parents and friends searching for answers.

The thick crowd that gathered around those close to Houssain has made it clear in the days following her death: No one can move on.

A woman with a fluorescent green hijab surrounded Houssain’s husband. She said, “We won’t forget.”

Yet, she didn’t, and neither will he.

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