Family continues son’s legacy of building bridges

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Nobody built bridges better than Imran Jaffer. And now his family is continuing their youngest son’s legacy at Western through a new undergraduatescholarship and internship program.

“As his mother, I wanted to do something to keep his spirit alive, to keep a legacy for him,” Nazira Jaffer said. “I thought about the things he cared about, the things that would represent his values. I came to this notion of establishing a charitable foundation in his name, a charity to support youth, to help the youth toward a better quality of life.”

Jaffer, a 19-year-old Urban Development student, died in a diving accident in August 2014.

His mother remembers her son’s love of family and friends, his leadership and his uncanny ability to bring a positive perspective to every person in the room.

“He loved everything in life – a happy, happy, happy child. He lit every room he entered with his beautiful smile, infectious laughter and radiated energy that brought happiness all around,” she said. “He was a beautiful, beautiful boy – smart, balanced. I am so proud of him. He was the guy who would take care of everybody else. It was so unfortunate he had that accident.

JAFFER

JAFFER

“I guess it was one of those times that he was such an elevated soul that God needed him more than us.”

When family and friends gathered after Jaffer’s death, more than 3,000 people attended the funeral. If his family didn’t understand what their son meant to the world before that moment, they certainly did afterward.

“I have always taught my children to build bridges with other people, with other faiths,” Nazira Jaffer said. “We were taken aback by the number of people who came to visit us – from all walks of life. People just kept coming and coming. It shows how much he loved people and how much people loved him.”

After her son’s death, Nazira Jaffer led the charge to establish the Imran Jaffer Foundation to improve the quality of lives of youth by providing educational opportunities, thereby contributing towards enrichment in the lives of what she described as “the leaders of tomorrow.”

Earlier this month, the foundation, along with the Department of Geography, organized a memorial on campus to celebrate the life of Jaffer. At the event, the department announced the establishment of a new undergraduate scholarship and internship program.

The Imran Jaffer Memorial Award in Urban Development will be awarded annually to a full-time undergraduate student entering their third year of the Honors Specialization in Urban Development module, or the combined Honors Specialization in Urban Development/HBA program. The $1,000 award recognizes a student who “shares Imran’s qualities, values and interests. The hope is that future students will receive the assistance they require to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.”

The Imran Jaffer Foundation JLL Summer Internship will provide an internship opportunity for a third-year Western student enrolled in the Urban Development Program or the Ivey Business School with an interest in real estate services. Established in collaboration with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), this paid internship celebrates Jaffer, who worked as a summer intern at the real estate services firm.

Urban Development student Dianne Ramos was announced as the inaugural recipient of the IJF-JLL Summer Internship.

“We are setting the stage for a young person – helping them through to the next stage of their life. If we can help one youth, help just one youth get a job and improve their quality of life, we would be so happy,” Nazira Jaffer said.

“I believe this foundation will have a life of its own. This is something that keeps us going – keeps Imran’s memory alive.”