Saturday February 25, 2023
By Thia James
When Hodan Hashi saw a need in the community, she would give. That’s how her two eldest sisters remember her.
Hodan Hashi and her older sister Shukri Hashi attending an Eid celebration last year. © Photo submitted by Shukri Hashi.
Videos of a violent altercation in the final few moments of the 23-year-old’s life have been shared repeatedly on social media by strangers. Her family is focused on remembering her for who she was during her life.
Shukri Hashi, a teacher, said she encouraged her younger sister Hodan to follow a similar path, seeing that it would be a natural fit for her, since her part-time experience involved working with children.
Hodan, one of the younger of nine siblings, had a strong connection with their youngest sister, who has special needs. She wanted to work with special needs children. She returned to Saskatoon — where her family lived when she was younger — to study early childhood education at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
While in Saskatoon, she found another need in the community she wanted to help fill by working as a translator for people who speak her family’s first language. Her parents came to Canada in the 1990s.
“She just connected with the newcomers because it would remind her of our mother, aunts and all the other women who were learning the language or were new to the country and she would think of our mother,” Shukri said in a phone interview with sister Fartun Hashi.
On the morning of Nov. 5, Hodan died of injuries after an altercation at LIT Nightclub, which shares the same building and ownership as the Crazy Cactus restaurant in downtown Saskatoon.
A 22-year-old woman, Paige Theriault-Fisher, is charged with manslaughter and was released on bail. Police initially announced she would face a second-degree murder charge.
Shukri said their family gathered in September for Shukri’s wedding. It was a family reunion of sorts, bringing relatives from Ottawa. Hodan was a bridesmaid. Shukri said she hasn’t been able to look through the photos or watch the wedding video. Hodan died two months later.
The family has been supporting each other and leaning into their Muslim faith, Shukri said.
They haven’t been participating in the online debates about Hodan’s death or spending time refuting claims made by strangers. Most family members haven’t watched the videos.
“They want to remember Hodan for who she was and all the amazing memories they have of her, and they don’t want to ever watch the video,” Shukri said.
“We just always expected to grow old together. We would never expect to lose her, much less in such a public way.”
Fartun said she’s still trying to process what happened.
“I was talking to her the night before. I truly have no words, I’m still so shocked about it.”
She describes Hodan as an all-around generous person who was empathetic, easy to talk to, caring and sincere.
“We’re not just saying this because she passed. Even when she was alive, just describing her, (we) would just be using the same adjectives. She was just what we describe as the softest person in our family,” Shukri added.
Hodan is in their prayers daily and her family wants to do good deeds in her memory. Their mother will travel to her home community in Somalia, where a well and a school will be built and dedicated in Hodan’s name.
“Even in death and separation we’re doing what we can to help advance her where she is and making sure she’s living good on the other side,” Shukri said.