MONTREAL – A fundraiser launched to help finance a new home for a man paralyzed in last year’s Quebec City mosque shooting surpassed its $400,000 goal on Friday.
Aymen Derbali, a father of three, lost the use of his legs when a shooter opened fire in the mosque on Jan. 29, 2017, killing six and seriously injuring five.
Witnesses have said Derbali took seven bullets as he tried to get the gunman’s attention in order to help others flee.
Canadian Muslim organization, DawaNet, launched the fundraiser in December to help Derbali and his family pay for a home near the mosque that is adapted to his disability and his motorized wheelchair.
Reached for reaction, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said he “couldn’t think of any better news to get on a Friday.”
“It has really shown what Canada is really about, and the values of inclusivity and acceptance and standing up to hatred and division,” Ihsaan Gardee said in a phone interview.
Organizers had originally hoped to raise $400,000 before the one-year anniversary but extended the deadline by two weeks.
The fundraiser had raised over $409,000 by Friday afternoon.
At a ceremony to mark the anniversary in Quebec City on Jan. 29, Derbali expressed gratitude to those who offered support in the year since the shooting.
“Beyond the tragedy we experienced, we really saw the nature of the people of Quebec, of Canada, the generous nature, the good heart, we really felt it, the whole community,” Derbali told the crowd.
“We are proud to be here and to be Quebecers.”
Derbali has been undergoing therapy at a rehabilitation centre but has said he is looking to move out by the summer.
He told The Canadian Press in January he hopes to live close to the mosque because prayer helps him to recover psychologically.
The alleged gunman is scheduled to stand trial in March on six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.