He asked himself “Why not me?” This is the mantra that David Harvey, a retired Burlington lawyer, lives by. “We live in an affluent society, and I’ve been fortunate in my life, so occasionally when I see something that provokes a ‘someone should do something’ response, I think ‘Why not me?” It was with this philosophy in mind that Harvey and Brock University collaborated to work on a scholarship to honour the fallen hero, Yosif Al-Hasnawi.
Al-Hasnawi, a 19-year-old first-year student in the Medical Sciences program, was on scholarship at Brock University when he was shot and killed in downtown Hamilton on December 2 while trying to protect an older man from two assailants.
Upon hearing the news, Harvey knew that he had to take action. Although he had never met Al-Hasnawi, Harvey decided that the Hamilton community and Brock University should come together to create a scholarship in Al-Hasnawi’s name as a way “to honour his selfless bravery and keep his memory alive.”
Al-Hasnawi’s family are appreciative of Harvey’s efforts, telling media “it is very important to them that he be remembered.” Brock has shown its support for the initiative by setting up the Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Fund. They have also been assisting Harvey in spreading the word about the scholarship.
Although Harvey has never been involved in the establishment of a scholarship before, he has helped for past community initiatives. A few years ago, Harvey set up an online fundraising site for the talented competitive gymnast Wolfe Gazer who had lost both of his parents. This initiative raised enough money to pay for Gazers’s training fees and other expenses associated with competition.
“Yosif dreamed of becoming a doctor one day. While that dream was stolen from him, it is our hope that the scholarship can help future students pursue similar dreams, and in that way, a little piece of Yosif’s spirit will live on through their careers of helping others.
”The scholarship is Harvey’s way of providing people of the community a positive project to channel their outrage and grief into. Harvey hopes to demonstrate that the events of December 2 are “not reflective of Hamilton and its people.”
Mohammed Hasan, a friend of Yosif’s, gave a full endorsement of the scholarship.
“Yosif was like a little brother to me. I have known him for almost ten years. Yosif was a very peaceful person with great ambition. He helped his community and people crossing his path every time he could. He was an extremely bright man that was always seeking more in life. I lost a great friend, a soul in gold and most importantly a great addition to this world.”
The hope is that the scholarship will be up and running by Fall 2018 and that it will be an annual award. Harvey and Brock have yet to establish the criteria for the scholarship. They would like to include the Al-Hasnawi family in the process of choosing the criteria but are giving the family time to grieve. The value of the scholarship will depend on how much money is raised. Although there is no set goal, Harvey hopes that they will raise at least $25,000. According to Michelle Kerr, Brock’s Director of Development, “to date we have received over $7,000 in donation in memory of Yosif and we continue to receive donations to this fund.” However, there is no value that can ever be placed on the contributions Yosif made to his community.
For those interested in contributing to this cause, you can donate online at www.brocku.ca/donate, by phone at 905-688-5550 ext. 4190 or by mailing a cheque payable to Brock University with “In memory of Yosif Al-Hasnawi” in the reference line to the Development and Alumni Relations office of Brock University.
-Ana Ferriera, Assistant News Editor