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Support grows for family of man who drowned helping family on Sask. lake

A man who recently immigrated to Saskatoon drowned on Saturday while trying to help a family on Lake Diefenbaker.

Raza Aziz moved to Saskatoon in May with his wife and two children from Peshawar, Pakistan.

Aziz died while trying to assist a family stranded in "treacherous" waters, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help his family.

In his short time in Saskatoon, he made an impact on the community.

“Raza and his family contacted us early on in the summer,” said Ali Abukar, CEO of the Saskatoon Open Door Society.

“We just learned about his passing over the long weekend. He was trying to do some good work in helping others who were stranded in Diefenbaker Lake.”

“Raza has been in this city for a very short period of time, and just like that when he saw people who needed his help, he didn’t second guess,” said Abdirahman Ali, Imam, Islamic Association of Saskatchewan-Saskatoon.

Outlook RCMP received a report of drowning on Lake Diefenbaker around 8:40 p.m. on Saturday, according to a news release.

Rescue crews began searching the lake, locating Aziz on Sunday morning.

A funeral service for Aziz was held in Saskatoon on Tuesday at the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan.

“We all know faith teaches us to help others when they need help, but would you give a second guess?” said Ali.

“The fact that Raza did not and he paid the ultimate sacrifice for it, was a source of reflection for us. And it was a way that he helped us affirm our faith and our values.”

On Wednesday his body was brought to the Muslim Cemetery of Calgary to be laid to rest.

“Some people want to have that final resting place to be where the family and other ancestors are buried,” said Abukar. “In this case, it wasn’t the case, and so the family decided where other family are, in Calgary.”

Abukar says the memory of Aziz and his actions are a testament to the selflessness of newcomers to Canada.

“This is a testament to how newcomers to Canada really care about this country, about the people in this country,” said Abukar.

“I think the biggest thing for him was at that time to respond to the needs of the people, and that is what he’s done. It just shows how selfless immigrants and newcomers are to do better for their new community, for their new society.”

The GoFundMe campaign to help offset the costs of funeral arrangements and to help the family had raised more than $76,000 as of Thursday morning. Top Stories

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