TORONTO: Thousands gather to honour life of Eritrean coummnity leader Nahom Tsehaie Berhane stabbed to death on September 27
OLIVIA CARVILLE / TORONTO STAR
Mourners from the Eritrean community weep outside the funeral of civic leader Nahom Tsehaie Berhane, who was stabbed to death last week.
Hundreds of members of Toronto’s Eritrean community chanted in grief for more than an hour as they honoured the life of slain civic leader Nahom Tsehaie Berhane on Saturday.
The women, wearing traditional white head scarves, wept during the service.
The men, in black suits, bowed their heads.
Berhane, 34, was stabbed to death as he was walking with friends along Danforth Ave. near Greenwood Ave., on Sept. 27.
The father of two was well-known in the city’s Eritrean community and the Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, near Dufferin St. and Eglinton Ave. W., was overflowing with mourners Saturday morning.
The mourners chanted in Tigrigna as six red-robed priests circled Berhane’s decorated casket, swinging incense and praying.
Berhane’s mother, Mebrat Gerezgiher, rocked back and forth, with her head in her hands. As the chanting drew to a close, she knelt on the ground beside the casket and draped her arms across it, sobbing.
Berhane was remembered as a “beloved child, brother, friend and mentor.”
RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR
Nahom Berhane was stabbed to death as he was walking with friends along the Danforth near Greenwood Ave. Sept. 27.
Gerezgiher wailed in Tigrigna.
A woman from the crowd translated her words as: “My son, my son, my son. I have lost my son. Please help me find my son.”
For the past five years, Berhane had worked as a health promoter at Access Alliance, helping individuals and families across the city.
Amanuel Melles, president of the Eritrean Canadian Community Centre and the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, told the Star Berhane was “a connector, a navigator, a civic leader and a youth mentor.”
Police allege Berhane was stabbed following an altercation with another man, who fled when confronted by Berhane’s friends. Osama Abdulaziz Filli, 23, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Berhane, who was born in Eritrea, came to Canada on his 10th birthday and grew up in the east end with an older brother and two younger sisters. He attended the University of Windsor, where he became the Eritrean Students Association president.
Berhane graduated in 2005 with majors in communications and sociology and then went on to graduate from United Way Toronto’s CITY Leaders program.
“Nahom dedicated his life as a youth worker, city leader and most recently a health promoter at Access Alliance,” the funeral service sheet read.
With files from Jacques Gallant