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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Vicky Mochama: Amid the horror of the Quebec mosque shooting, this man was pure goodness

In 2018, Vicky hopes that Canadians can rise above the crush of bad news to do bold, brave deeds that serve others more than they serve themselves.

Aymen Derbali was paralyzed after putting himself between his community and a hate-filled young man during the Quebec mosque shooting last January. Friends and family are now fundraising to buy his family an accessible home.

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Aymen Derbali was paralyzed after putting himself between his community and a hate-filled young man during the Quebec mosque shooting last January. Friends and family are now fundraising to buy his family an accessible home.

The end of the end of the year is an arbitrary time to pause and reflect. Our lives do not exist on a January to December continuum; instead, they are marked by births, deaths, new friends, old joys and things beyond the march of time.

The randomness of this pause is worth considering. Because the times where our lives do matter are also decidedly random. The people that we find and turn to in those moments are not.

In January, a radicalized young white man walked into a Quebec mosque at prayer and began firing. As worshippers began to fall, one man stepped forward. Aymen Derbali, a father of three from Tunisia, tried to distract the gunman. For the bravery and sacrifice of putting himself between his community and a hate-filled young man, he has two bullets lodged in his spine, meaning he will never again walk. Six others died that night.

In the ten months since, Derbali has had a lot of time to think but, according to a Globe and Mail profile, he is not resentful: "I have no bad feelings or bitterness," Derbali told the Globe. "This hasn't changed my vision of this country. I'm proud to be Canadian. What happened could have happened anywhere in the world."

He has reason to be. He says no politicians — like the ones who stood at memorial podiums on TV in the aftermath — have come to visit.

But he’s less worried about that than he is about being with his family. His permanent paralysis means they cannot stay in their fourth-floor apartment when he finally comes home from the rehab centre. Right now, there is a fundraising campaign to buy them a place he can return to. A hero needs a home.

But for a few minutes at the end of a gun, Derbali’s life and the lives of all the members of the Sainte-Foy mosque has changed.

We have changed too, I hope. Canadians have begun to stop thinking we’re immune from the toxicity that corroded America’s democracy.

Perhaps as a new year dawns, we’ll think about the Derbali family and wonder what we, a community of people and a nation of citizens, could have done to prevent that young man from his horrible crimes.

But I hope we’ll also think of what we can do going forward for families like the Derbalis — migrants, Africans, Muslims — wherever we can.

And finally, I hope that we can rise above a seemingly endless crush of bad news to do those bold brave things that serve others more than they serve ourselves.

I cannot guarantee that 2018 will be any better — there are dangers and one of them brands hotels — but we can be.

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