By Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press on January 6, 2021.
EDMONTON – A family member of two Somali women who were attacked in an Edmonton mall parking lot says her mother and sister thought they were going to be killed.
The woman, who was part of an online news conference organized by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, says she is speaking anonymously because she’s concerned about her family’s safety.
Police have said two women wearing hijabs were sitting in a car in the parking lot at Southgate Mall on Dec. 8 when a man came up to the passenger side and began screaming.
They say the man shattered a window then chased and knocked the passenger to the ground as she tried to run away.
The second woman tried to help, but she was also pushed to the ground.
The family member says she believes she almost lost her mother and sister that day.
“While I am full of gratitude that they are here with us today, we all bear scars from this horrific day that we’ll carry with us forever,” she said at the news conference Wednesday.
She said she wanted to tell people about the two women behind the headlines.
“The two Black Canadian Muslim women are … strong and powerful and brave survivors,” she said, noting her family has lived in Alberta for generations. “My sister and my mother have taught me to be proud of where I come from.
“It is from them that I have learned this sense of pride for our shared heritage and religion.”
The woman said her mother and sister were met with extreme violence and hate when they were attacked by two suspects who she believes were motivated by Islamophobia and racism.
“The verbal abuse and racial slurs used during this incident only compounds the extreme trauma and isolation that this incident has caused my family,” she said.
The woman said her mother, who is the strongest woman she knows, could only beg and plead for help as she was being attacked.
Her sister, she added, said her attacker had “so much hatred in his eyes” and said he wanted to kill them.
“His physical action and aggression made her believe he was going to kill them both.”
Richard Bradley Stevens, 41, has been charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief in the attack.
Police have not said there was a second attacker, but a spokeswoman said Wednesday that the investigation continues.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021.