4/16/2021
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Attack was ‘horrific and brutal’: Family of Somali women targeted at Southgate Centre in December speak out


By Anna Junker
Thursday January 7, 2021

"While the initial attack was horrific and brutal, navigating resources and avenues for support has been additionally traumatizing," she said.

Police at the scene of a violent assault of a mall employee they're investigating where the suspect male fled on foot from Southgate Centre in Edmonton, April 17, 2018. Iain Armstrong, 61, of Bunches Flowers Co. died in hospital on Friday, April 20, 2018. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Southgate Centre. PHOTO BY ED KAISER /Postmedia, file

A Somali mother and daughter who suffered a racially motivated assault in the parking lot of Southgate Centre are struggling to cope with their trauma one month later.

A family member speaking on behalf of the pair, along with a number of advocacy groups, at a Wednesday press conference said the attack has haunted her family since it occurred.

“The verbal abuse and racial slurs used during this incident only compounds to the extreme trauma and isolation that this incident has caused my family,” said the woman, who did not provide her name in order to protect the identity of the victims.

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The attack, which occurred on Dec. 8, against the mother and daughter wearing hijabs began when the pair were sitting in their car in the Southgate Centre parking lot. According to police, a man approached the car yelling racist obscenities before he smashed the passenger-side window. One of the women fled the vehicle, and he chased her down and assaulted her. When the other woman tried to help, the man pushed her to the ground.

The family member said her mother and sister faced a number of racial slurs and threats, including, “Go back to your country,” “You f- Somalis,” f-word, n-word, and “I’m going to kill you.”

She said her family has been traumatized twice by the attack.

“While the initial attack was horrific and brutal, navigating resources and avenues for support has been additionally traumatizing,” she said.

“Interacting with legal services, scouring for support services and meeting person after person who was ill-equipped to dealing with hate crimes has been disheartening and disenchanting.”

She said not a lot of sources they went to for help had knowledge on hate crimes or knew what to do in order to help.

“It was very confusing and traumatizing because we didn’t know where to start, where to go, and the people that did come and try to help just weren’t as experienced in hate crime, or how to navigate in a situation like this,” she said.

Call to Action

Sameha Omer, director of legal affairs with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, called on the provincial government and Alberta mayors Wednesday to create a joint bipartisan provincial and municipal plan to stop street harassment and end racist violence.

She also called on the federal and provincial elected officials to “stand up clearly” and take action against white supremacist groups.

“It is time that we go beyond platitudes. We cannot allow this kind of white supremacist violence to continue in Canada,” Omer said. “There is no place for such intolerance and hate in our shared communities. Now more than ever, we need to take a stand.”

Richard Bradley Stevens, 41, is facing two counts of assault and one count of mischief.

The woman said there was a second attacker involved they want to see charged.

However, Edmonton police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said investigators determined there was “no evidence to support laying charges against a second individual in this disturbing incident.”

Voordenhout said anyone with previously unreported information or evidence regarding the assault should contact police.



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