Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Killed in Burkina Faso Remembered for Wanting to Bring Change

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Killed in Burkina Faso Remembered for Wanting to Bring Change

Article excerpt

Canadians killed in Burkina Faso remembered warmly


MONTREAL - Two Canadians killed in a terror attack in Burkina Faso are being remembered for their efforts to bring about change in the West African country.

Tammy Chen and Bilel Diffalah died after the terrorist strike on a popular Turkish restaurant in downtown Ouagadougou on Sunday that claimed 18 lives.

Diffalah worked with an NGO in the West African country, while Chen helped found a charity called Bright Futures Burkina Faso and held degrees from McGill University and Queen's University.

Odette McCarthy, director of the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation program for which Diffalah, 41, was a volunteer, remembered him as dynamic.

"He was a really dedicated volunteer," McCarthy said Tuesday. "I had the opportunity to meet with him when I was there in May on a monitoring evaluation trip.

"I spent the day with him and I was very struck by his commitment, his passion and by his ability to really focus on building with the local partner solutions to the problems they were encountering."

An expert in veterinary science, Diffalah was working as a volunteer at a local organization that was looking to improve the poultry industry by helping to design and improve quality control programs.

Diffalah was single and lived in Montreal prior to his posting.

He had lived in Canada for several years, studying food science and quality control at the University of Guelph, according to both McCarthy and his Facebook profile. He had a veterinary degree from University of Blida in Algeria.

Chen, who on Facebook went by her married name, Tammy Chen Fenaiche, married in July and was expecting her first child -- a boy -- her grandmother, Doris MacKay, told the Toronto Star.

Her husband was also listed among the dead.

The Toronto District School Board called Chen "the victim of a senseless act of violence" and said in a statement Monday she left her job as a French immersion teacher in 2013 to pursue her PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Gonville and Caius College, which is part of the university, extended its sympathies Tuesday, flying its flag at half-mast to mark the death of an "exceptional woman, passionate about her research and helping people. …

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