About 400 people attended the funeral ceremony at the Burnaby Ismaili Centre to commemorate Canadian citizen Nagib Damji, 59, who was having a coffee at ArtCaffe in the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last weekend when he was caught in a crossfire and lost his life.
Damji’s family released a statement Friday, describing him as “a loving husband, cherished father of three daughters, a brother, a son and a good friend to many.” They noted his “vivacious, kind-hearted, gregarious” nature and his “magnetic personality and a great love for people, especially his family.”
The family has set up a donation page for Damji’s favourite charity, The Aga Khan Foundation, which helps improve the living conditions of poor people in Asia and Africa.
Damji and the other Canadian were killed as gunmen used AK-47 assault rifles and threw grenades at Nairobi’s upscale Westgate mall, a venue frequented by expatriates and wealthy locals. Officials said the other Canadian killed was diplomat Annemarie Desloges, who worked at the Canadian embassy in Nairobi.
The attack began Saturday and dragged into Sunday, with 10 to 15 terrorists holed up inside the building with up to 50 hostages, as Kenyan authorities mounted what it called a final operation to end the siege. By evening, Kenyan officials said “most” hostages had been rescued. Somalia’s Islamist rebel group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility and said the attack was revenge for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia.
At least two Canadian citizens and one permanent resident of Canada were among the 175 injured.