TORONTO, Ont. – Candles flickered in the darkness, while some quietly wept and a few sobbed uncontrollably for a woman who they had never met.
Hundreds gathered on Thursday night to mourn 55-year-old Nighisti Semret — the city’s 43rd homicide victim.
Semret was fatally stabbed Tuesday morning on the way to her Cabbagetown rooming house after her overnight shift as a cleaner and supervisor at the Delta Chelsea hotel.
Under the blanket of darkness, a man stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife in an alleyway near Ontario and Winchester streets — a popular shortcut frequently used by locals.
Mourners brought candles, flowers and cards to the scene of her death, resting them against the alley wall, in memory of the Eritrean refugee with aspirations to reunite with her family.
Samantha Thornton, among the organizers of the vigil, said she was overwhelmed by the turnout.
“Even though she may not have been known, she’s still cared for and we do hold her somewhere in our hearts,” she told 680News.
“[The vigil] just needed to show that we as Canadians and we as a community do not tolerate this type of vicious act.”
One Cabbagetown resident said the neighbourhood is still reeling from the attack.
“Everyone in the neighbourhood is really, really just shattered to the core.”
“So close to our front door.”
After prayers in the alleyway, mourners walked to Winchester Square Park, where a maple bush was planted in Semret’s honour.
“My heart is broken. The act of violence against one person is also an act of violence against everyone in the community,” one man said.