Ali Saeed, 21, had just completed his third-year exams when he had a fatal heart attack on May 10. The ambitious student’s sudden death rocked his wide circle of friends and inspired many at U of T’s St. George campus to emulate his generosity.
A native of Islamabad, Pakistan, Saeed lived in Toronto with his brother for three years while pursuing a double major in political science and economics.
Perpetually tethered to a camera, Saeed frequently photographed the events at Hart House. This community hub displayed some of his best shots over the summer, and is still accepting donations for a student photographer
endowment at www.uoft.me/24E.
“Ali was very concerned and very conscious of Pakistan’s political, economic and humanitarian situation,” says Sameer Zaheer, a software engineer who met Saeed through the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) shortly after his arrival. “But what really struck me about him was how generous he was.” When Zaheer was in Toronto alone during Eid, for example, Saeed insisted that Zaheer spend the holiday with Saeed’s family and visiting parents.
A condolence book at the Arts and Science Students’ Union, where Saeed served as an executive, quickly filled up. Scores of students left memories on the MSA Facebook page and Pakistan’s consul general for Canada in Toronto issued a statement of remorse. An online fundraiser to build a solar-powered well in Pakistan for Ali Saeed quickly exceeded its $8,000 goal, with an extra $5,000 going to local orphanages. His friends are not surprised. “He had a lot of close friendships,” says Zaheer, “not just passing ones.”