Balloons for Jasmin
Father of Jasmin Hanif moved by support as family grieves
Students from Mary Hopkins Elementary School celebrated the short life of a classmate who was struck and killed by a vehicle while she was trying to cross the road in front of her family’s home Tuesday evening. Her father, Shakeel Hanif, was moved by the display of love for his 10-year-old daughter. “Jasmin was an angel. She loved everybody.” Read more about Thursday evening’s balloon release on
The distraught father of Jasmin Hanif slowly walked onto the asphalt playground of Mary Hopkins Elementary School in Waterdown Thursday evening and could not believe his eyes.
Hundreds of people had packed the area for a balloon release ceremony to remember the life of 10year-old Jasmin, who was struck and killed by a van two days before.
“I can’t believe it,” Shakeel Hanif said tearfully. “They loved my daughter and they are sad today.
“Jasmin was an angel. She loved everybody. Look what she has done in just 10 years of her life. She has brought all these people together. I am so proud to be her father.”
Since the accident at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday — in front of the family home on Evans Road, three kilometres away from the school — Hanif said he didn’t think he could continue living so close to where his daughter died.
“Believe me, I was thinking about moving after what happened to my daughter in front of my house.
“Well, we’re not going anywhere. I love the people of Waterdown.”
Jasmin’s Grade 4 teacher at Mary Hopkins, Caroline Soldaat, told the crowd “Jasmin will remain in our hearts forever.”
After a minute’s silence, and a countdown, a mass of balloons sailed upward over the top of the school.
Afterward, Soldaat said, “If you could describe her in one word, it would be ‘vibrant.’”
She had a larger-than-life personality. She came to school every day excited. She was involved in everything. She wanted to be a helper; she was always asking, ‘What can I do next?’”
Each day, Soldaat said, Jasmin would show up five to 10 minutes before school started to sharpen pencils and put chairs under each desk. “She was also a chatterbox. She would love to tell you stories. She would just chatter about everything that was happening in her life, especially about her brother. She loved her brother. She was one of those kids that 30 years from now you will remember. She was unforgettable.”
Marie MacEachern, a mother who has a son in Grade 4 at the school, said the balloon release was the idea of a group of pupils who were unable to attend Jasmin’s funeral earlier Thursday. Jasmin’s service was held at ISNA Canada, in Mississauga, followed by a burial in Burlington.
“Within 24 hours, the balloon release idea went from five kids to this,” MacEachern said.
A GoFundMe account called Jasmin Hanif’s Memorial had raised more $9,100 as of Thursday night.
The account says it is “in support of the grieving family for the sweet Jasmin Hanif, to help with funeral costs and allow the family to grieve without strain, and to create a memorial for their beautiful daughter.”
A Facebook group called “Support For Jasmin’s Family & Friends” has been created where families are sharing memories, calling the young girl kind and strong, and offering support to the family.
In addition, a “Waterdown Mom’s Group” also wants to help the driver, a 26-year-old man whose name is being withheld by police. He has not been charged.
“It was a complete accident, he was not at fault, and we want to show him support through this difficult time as well,” Amy Towarnicki said in a Facebook post.
“We know this is a sensitive issue and he may want to remain anonymous, but even if we can just let him know that our community is thinking about him as well.”
The narrow, two-lane road where the accident happened has no sidewalks and is a main thoroughfare connecting Dundas Street and Parkside Drive. It’s a frequent traffic nightmare for neighbours and on Tuesday night the road was particularly busy with drivers avoiding a closure on Highway 403.
Above: Jasmin’s classmates relase balloons into the sky Thursday at Mary Hopkins Elementary School in Waterdown, part of a memorial organized to remember the Grade 4 student.
Left: Jasmin in an undated photo from the GoFundMe page set up on behalf of her family.
Messages of love and support written in chalk on the playground.