Support has been pouring in for three Edmonton children left orphaned when their parents drowned at Crescent Falls.
A GoFundMe campaign with a $100,000 goal was organized by the Pakistan Canada Associations of Edmonton and Calgary has raised more than $70,000. Another GoFundMe campaign organized by a family friend has raised more than $8,000 towards the $25,000 goal and a third started by the family of one of the children’s best friends has raised more than $2,000 of its $5,000 goal.
Partab and his wife Sonam Oad and their nephew Anoop Oad drowned at Crescent Falls last Tuesday when they were pulled underwater by the powerful currents.
Anoop, 25, an exchange student from Pakistan, was the first to go in the water where he got into trouble. Partab, then his wife went in to help, and both were also pulled under. They were both 38.
Partab and Sonam’s three children, aged 10, six and three witnessed the tragedy unfold.
A viewing was held in Calgary on Sunday for a small group of family members. The bodies of Partab and his wife, as well as their nephew, will be flown back to Pakistan this week to be buried.
Leeza Looned and her husband Rahul Oad, a cousin of Partab’s, drove out from Vancouver to offer their support and were at the viewing.
The children are doing as well as can be expected and are being cared for by relatives. The Oads have family in Edmonton and Calgary.
The viewing has been emotional.
“It’s just overwhelming for a lot of family members. It just becomes more real than just a thought of it,” she said. “I think everyone is struggling to keep themselves together in this situation.”
The family are still trying to determine how best to care for the children.
“I think everyone is feeling for the kids and what their upbringing is going to look like now that they’re in this situation,” said Looned.
Where they will go has yet to be determined. They have an aunt in Calgary and an uncle in Australia.
“For now, at least temporarily, the kids are going to go to Pakistan to be with the grandparents. But then the final situation will be decided.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure (what will happen). It’s just devastating.”
Looned said the family have been moved by the outpouring of support.
“We’re so grateful for all of the donations, for everyone who is contributing and sharing the link. It goes to show that everyone comes together in solidarity during tough times, especially in a situation now with three children left without parents.
“We appreciate everything that people are doing.”
Numerous people in the community have called offering to do anything they can. “It’s been great to see that outpouring of love.”
The children are coping as best they can.
“They are getting by. It’s just so difficult because they were at the scene and saw what was happening. It’s still just so sad.
“The younger ones are still not completely comprehending the situation, but the eldest is struggling.”
The youngest child was born in Canada but her two brothers were born in Pakistan. The family came to Canada four to five years ago and all are Canadian citizens.
Partab was trained as a doctor in Pakistan but had been laid off from his job at the Edmonton Airport because of the pandemic. Sonam worked at a bank.
Anoop had been in Canada for six months on his student exchange.
“He was a brilliant kid. He was top of his university in Pakistan.”