Hundreds attend visitation for 45-year-old victim of Toronto van attack

TORONTO — Hundreds of mourners came together at a chapel north of Toronto on Sunday, where they sang songs and prayers in remembrance of one of 10 people who died in last month’s deadly van attack in north Toronto.

Renuka Amarasingha, 45, was an active member of Toronto’s Sri Lankan community and a single mother who leaves behind a 7-year-old son.

A eulogy delivered at the visitation in Markham, Ont., described her as an incredibly generous person who lived for her son.

“She was a strong, hard-working woman whose goal was to ensure her son would be a respectable man in society,” said Dilmi De Silva, a member of the Buddhist temple Amarasingha visited weekly.

“For over 15 years, she was a supportive figure in the community,” said De Silva. “She left us all with memories of her kindness.”

De Silva described how Amarasingha would volunteer at the Scarborough General Hospital, where she would donate toys to sick children, and said she always brought food and snacks for the children at the temple.

Amarasingha was a nutritional services worker for the Toronto District School Board, and had just started her first day of work at a school near the attack site on the day of the incident.

Gayam Samadeera, who along with his wife was friends with Amarasingha, said she didn’t have much family in Toronto, but had made many friends in the community.

Samadeera said the visitation service featured both Christian and Buddhist ceremonies, because Amarasingha was an active member of both faiths.

His son was also friends with Amarasingha’s son, and the two went to the same temple for Sunday school.

“The hardest part is thinking about her son,” said Samadeera. “At least we know he’s not alone, he’ll have people around him.”

Samadeera’s son, Sonal, said Amarasingha’s son, Diyon, was always fun to spend time with at their Sunday school, where they would often play together.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Diyon, who doesn’t know his father and now only has the support of the community around him.

The fundraiser has already received more than $350,000 — more than double its initial goal of $150,000.

Amarasingha’s visitation is one of many that have already taken place for the victims of last month’s van attack, where a man drove onto a sidewalk and plowed through 26 people.

Twenty-five-year-old Alek Minassian of Richmond Hill, Ont., has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, with another three attempted murder charges expected.

Another visitation will be held for Amarasingha Monday morning, followed by a funeral service in the evening.

The Canadian Press

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