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Woman killed in machete attack remembered at candlelight vigil

A woman killed in a brutal machete attack in Scarborough allegedly at the hands of her ex-husband was honoured at a candlelight vigil Thursday evening. Many who attended didn’t know the 27-year-old personally but felt compelled to pay their respects.

Tharshika Jeganathan was killed on Sept. 11 when she was on her way home from the Dollarama where she worked. Her ex-husband, Sasikaran Thanapalasingam, is accused to chasing her with a machete and attacking her on the street. The 38-year-old has now been charged with first-degree murder.

Organizers say Jeganathan came to Canada from Sri Lanka about three years ago to be with Thanapalasingam, eventually leaving him. With no family here, she was determined to build a life for herself, staying in a shelter, getting a job, improving her English and finding her own place to live.

“Tharshika wanted to live. She wanted to live fearlessly, she wanted happiness and she wanted freedom,” said Cajaani Velautham of the domestic violence prevention organization ISEE initiative.

Organizers of the vigil said it was a chance to shine a light on the problem of domestic violence, no matter what community the victim might belong to.

A report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative released Wednesday says there have been at least 662 victims of domestic homicide in Canada since 2010, and the numbers continue to rise.

The data shows domestic homicide “remains a deeply gendered crime with 80 per cent of adult victims and 59 per cent of child victims in Canada being female,” the organization said in a news release.

It’s a problem Peel Regional Police are hoping to combat with brochures at each of their divisions starting Friday — available in English, Chinese, Punjabi, Arabic and Urdu.

‘Intelligent, caring and very thoughtful’

Jayaweera Rajabakac, one of those in attendance Thursday, said he heard crying before running outside and seeing a body on the ground before police arrived. It’s an image he hasn’t been able to forget.

“When we get up in the morning, I see the driveway and I always think about her,” said Rajabakac, adding he felt compelled to attend because while he’s not Tamil himself, he is Sri Lankan and said it was important to show support.

A statement read at the vigil says Jeganathan brightened up a room with her kind heart and bubbly personality.

“To me, she was more than just a soul sister. [She was] a role model who impacted my life significantly in such a short amount of time. Tharshika was a hardworking, intelligent, caring and very thoughtful person,” the statement written by a friend said.

“While we mourn her loss, we need to celebrate her strength. The tragic end to a resilient and vibrant person stresses  the imminent need of addressing interpersonal violence and abuse in our communities,” Velautham said.

A GoFundMe page set up to help transport Jeganathan’s body to Sri Lanka has raised over $29,000 so far.

Organizers say that once the police investigation is complete, the goal is to allow her family to hold a funeral and last rites for her back at home.

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