Date: Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Now a devastated husband and father is struggling with grief and trying to understand what happened, said a spokeswoman for an immigration organization that helps newcomers to Canada.
"This is a life-changing event for their family and we ask the whole Winnipeg community to put their minds and their hearts to that mother and that child," said Dorota Blumczynska, executive director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.
"Things are very touch and go at this point."
The woman and girl — whom Blumczynska believes is four or five years old — were hit on IsabelStreet next to Dufferin School around noon Monday.
Blumczynska said she knows little at the moment about what happened, only that "they were both thrown a significant distance."
They were rushed to hospital in critical condition. The mother remains critical but stable and is expected to recover, though "there will be a great deal of hardship," Blumczynska said.
The girl is critical and unstable condition "and she needs our prayers the most at this point."
The family is from Eritrea and just arrived in the city last month, settling in Winnipeg's Centennial neighbourhood, where many newcomer families live.
"They would have just moved in in the last four weeks, maybe. Their time in our community is quite brief," Blumczynska said.
Their journey here was much longer, however.
They spent a decade in refugee camps in Israel and other countries before arriving in Canada and eventually becoming tenants of IRCOM, which runs a housing complex just south of the intersection where the two were hit.
Blumczynska was at the hospital Monday afternoon and met with the father, who "is in just absolutely tremendous shock. He's beyond devastated."
Though there is a language barrier, Blumczynska used their limited communications to grieve, console and connect.
"We did manage to exchange a few words in which he expressed a complete inability to understand how this could happen and why this would happen — that they were now in Canada and everything was [supposed to be] OK," she said.
"He was just going from shock to devastation, back and forth, through just an incredible range of emotions."
IRCOM has trauma counsellors at the site because a lot of children and a few staff members saw the accident.
"With the warm, sunny weather, there was a lot of people out on the street going between the building and the school," Blumczynska said.
"I think innumerable lives have been touched by this event."
The Winnipeg School Division said it also has made resource staff available for students and staff at Dufferin School.
Blumczynska said IRCOM has programs to help newcomers adapt to Canadian life, including navigating the neighbourhood and traffic awareness, particularly because Isabel is a "very, very fast street."
"We do our absolute best to equip our families with the knowledge that they need … but it's a moment in time and I don't know enough about the mom's actions before the event or the actions of the driver," she said.
"I do know we have two community members who are fighting for their lives."
Police investigators are asking businesses to review security camera footage and for the drivers of buses, trucks and garbage trucks to check their dash cameras, in case they captured the crash.
Tips can be made to the Winnipeg police traffic division at 204-986-7085 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).