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Nighisti Semret

Dark and very, very wet. I gather some sort of storm is about to explode over the East Coast, which worries me. It’s like the Jewish joke, how every bit of news gets the response, “But is it good for the Jews?” When I heard about the storm, I wondered, “But will it be bad for Obama?” The Republicans will find some way to blame a storm on him.

Tragedy only a few blocks from my home in Cabbagetown – Nighisti Semret, a woman from Eritrea, on her way home in the early morning from her job as a hotel cleaning supervisor, was brutally assaulted from behind, stabbed multiple times and left for dead, apparently in a random attack. The whole city has convulsed with shock and horror, but this neighbourhood especially – peaceful little Cabbagetown no more. My women friends are afraid to walk alone at night or in the early morning, at least until the guy has been caught. What kind of loathsome psychopath is loose on our streets? I walked over yesterday to the memorial that’s appeared in the lane where she died, messages of sorrow and condolence written on cards and scrawled in chalk on the wall.

Her death has shone a light, if briefly, on the invisible lives of the immigrants who work like slaves in our city. Nighisti lived in a rooming house for women and worked seven days a week, saving to bring her four children over to Canada. How many live as she did? For a few moments, her fellow immigrants appeared on television and radio, talking about their compatriot and her life, their lives.

Now, the hunt for the killer goes on, and for Nighisti’s neighbours, it’s back to work as usual, keeping us all comfortable and clean.

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2 Responses to “Nighisti Semret”

  1. Juliet in Paris says:

    What a tragic, sad, sad, story. Thank you for writing about it. Have they caught the killer or do they have any leads? I googled Nighisti Semret's name and you can actually watch videos online of the surveillance cameras that show the last minutes of this poor woman's life as she walks down the lane holding an umbrella, but what's particularly CHILLING is the man you see walking behind her. I hope Toronto Life or another publication will publish a story on what you mentioned above: the invisible lives of the immigrants who work like slaves in our city. Why don't YOU write the story, Beth?

  2. beth says:

    Juliet, I appreciate the thought of my writing that story – but I'm not an investigative journalist, I'm an essayist. I hope very much, with you, that someone writes the story of her life here, tho'. And no, they have not caught him yet. These days I get cabs home at night, right to my door. Have never done that before.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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