Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture: Promoting Racial Justice in Health Care

“He was a bright young man with dreams of becoming a doctor, he hoped one day to make a difference in the world.”

– Amal Alzurufi, mother of slain Brock student Yosif Al-Hasnawi, 1998-2017.

First-year Brock Medical Sciences student Yosif Al-Hasnawi was fatally shot on Dec. 2, 2017, while intervening on behalf of a stranger being accosted on the street outside of the mosque in Hamilton, ON., where he was volunteering. For trying to protect an older man, the 19-year-old is remembered as a hero who inspired others to be better.

In response to Al-Hasnawi’s death, Zanab Jafry (BSc ’18) founded the memorial lecture to help fulfill a responsibility to treat anti-racism as a necessary curriculum for future medical and health professionals.

Sponsored in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences; Human Rights and Equity; and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock University, the annual lecture helps to memorialize its namesake, Yosif Al-Hasnawi, while also encouraging advocacy for justice.

Fifth Annual Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture: Five years later, what have we learned? Where do we have to go?

Recorded: Monday, March 20, 2023 

Time: 7:00 P.m. to 9:00 p.m., 
Location: Brock University, South Block (STH) 204 

Title of talk – Adrift: recovering the lost potential, health status, and Quality of Life of equity-seeking community Members. 

Jafry Zanab

Speaker Biography Zanab Jafry (BSc ’19), University Health Network 

Zanab Jafry Shah is a gender-based violence and health equity specialist currently serving as the Manager of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Antiracism at the University Health Network. In this role, she protects and uplifts the needs and interests of equity-seeking employees in North America’s largest healthcare innovation hub.  Now working in the broader human rights field, she began her career working in Post-Secondary Institutions as a systems navigator for survivors of GBV navigating the complexity of intra-university policies, as well as the civil and criminal justice system.  

Before entering the workforce in 2018, Zanab served as Brock’s Student Justice Centre Supervisor and Ombuds Coordinator in the Brock University Student Union while completing her degree in Medical Sciences. In 2020, Zanab founded Bettering.ca, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm with the goal of delivering accessible, affordable, and data-driven DEI solutions made to fit the unique needs of each workplace.  

Brock community responds to the tragic loss of a first-year colleague

The Brock community was left in shock and mourning upon learning that first-year Medical Sciences student Yosif Al-Hasnawi had died in a December 2017 shooting incident in downtown Hamilton, after trying to help someone – described as a senior citizen – who was being accosted on the street.

Instructors remembered Yosif as a reserved, committed student who was excited about attending Brock but as details about the violence emerged, so too did reflections on the racial bias that affected his access to trauma services.

Brock student, Zanab Jafry (BSc ’19), then a fourth-year Medical Sciences student and Supervisor of the University’s Student Justice Centre, was the first person to respond at Brock and organized a memorial for Yosif within a few days of the murder.

“At the time, no student from our school had met such a fate under those circumstances, so his tragedy was unique to us. Yosif embodied every attribute of heroism, and his act of courage wasn’t a one-off event; that’s how he moved through life.” -Zanab Jafry

Jafry also spearheaded organizing a plaque and bench in honour of Yosif outside the new Business building (negotiated with BUSU, Goodman and senior administration).

In order to develop an ongoing and ‘education’ oriented response to the issues in this case, the idea of an annual lecture dedicated to exploring the role of racism in healthcare was born.

Background of Criminal Proceedings

Fatally shot in the abdomen, witnesses described how first responders failed to take Al-Hasnawi’s injury seriously, accusing him of lying about being shot before transporting him to a distant medical facility rather than a nearby trauma centre better suited to treating gunshot wounds.

Two Hamilton paramedics were found guilty in June 2021 for failing to provide the necessities of life as a result of their actions while working. Staff at the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed separate notices of appeal were filed for each paramedic in October 2021.

In January 2022, they were each given an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community inclusive of six months of house arrest followed by a curfew for the rest of the sentence plus 150 hours of community service.

The shooter was acquitted of second-degree murder in November 2019 and an appeal to the Court of Appeal for Ontario was dismissed on September 26, 2022.


Identifying and breaking down barriers to equitable health care was at the core of the fourth annual Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture: Promoting Racial Justice in Health Care which took place Thursday, March 10.

Hosted by Brock University’s Department of Health Sciences, the event featured Baldev Mutta, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Punjabi Community Health Services, a health service provider in the Central Region of Ontario Health.

The presentation entitled, “Dismantling Structural Barriers to equitable health care,” looked at identifying barriers to equitable health care for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities, while also examining the historical context of barriers, which continue to persist to date, and practical suggestions on how to start creating an equitable health-care system for all.


The third Annual Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture welcomed back guest speaker Notisha Massaquoi via an online event which took place on March 19. The presentation addressed, “Where do we go from here? Health care delivery in the age of racial reckoning.”

This event was Co-Hosted by Brock’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, the Office of Human Rights and Equity and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies.


The second annual Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture: Promoting Racial Justice in Health Care took place Thursday, Feb. 27,

Special guest Notisha Massaquoi, former Executive Director of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands and a Lecturer at Ryerson University in the Department of Social Work, presented a talk entitled, “Today We Might Save A Life: Conversations About Racial Equity, Justice and the Canadian Health Care System.”

The event was hosted by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Health Sciences in partnership with Human Rights and Equity and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies.


The inaugural Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Lecture Series took place on Monday, Oct. 22. with special guest Uppala Chandrasekera, Director of Public Policy for the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario. The presentation explored the causes of discrimination and its impact on mental health, and identify opportunities and resources for addressing discrimination at an individual, organizational and systemic level.

This event was co-sponsored by the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization; Faculty of Applied Health Sciences; Faculty of Social Sciences; Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies; Brock University Human Rights and Equity Office; Tecumseh Centre for Indigenous Research and Education; and Brock University Students’ Union.

Yosif's family speaking

“Yosif would have done something amazing with his academics. In the end, all I want for him is not to be forgotten.” – Amal Alzurufi, mother of slain Brock student Yosif Al-Hasnawi.

Yosif Al-Hasnawi should have graduated alongside his Class of 2021 peers during Brock’s Spring Convocation Friday, June 18. Each year, students from the graduating class leave their mark on the University through a class gift. That year, the Class of 2021 encouraged graduates, families and community to donate in his memory.

Set up shortly after he died, the Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Bursary provides financial aid for students who may not otherwise be able to continue their education at Brock without support.

Donate to this award online

  1. Visit brocku.ca/donate
  2. Under ‘Please select the designation of your gift’ select ‘Other
  3. Type in ‘Yosif Al-Hasnawi Memorial Bursary’ in text box