Memories and cash flood in for Cecilia

Toronto Zoo among biggest benefactor

The tears and cash continued to flow last month as a community continued to grieve and celebrate the memory of Grade 4 student Ceclia Zhang.

At a special April 29 dedication, the choir from Seneca Hill Public School sang as her schoolmates and neighbours remembered the girl’s vibrant life and horrifying death.

The 10-year-old was mysteriously snatched from her bed in her parents home in an overnight abduction last October, an act that frustrated police before her body was found in a wooded area in Mississauga earlier this spring.

But after vigils outside the Zhangs’ home, a public memorial and other public displays of sympathy, school officials celebrated Cecilia’s memory with the planting of a magnolia tree and a small sitting area. A sculpture and plaque are also planned.

School officials said that it was important to eulogize Ceclia in a permanent way at the school, especially since her abduction and death has similarly touched the school as it did the entire city.

"We wanted to do this to commemorate Cecilia’s love of life," said principal Evelyne Chadband.

"Magnolias blossom in the spring and spring was when Cecilia was born," she said.

"A sitting area near the tree will allow people to contemplate about the life of the beautiful young girl we knew so briefly."

It’s anticipated the magnolia will bloom each spring as a way to remember Ceclia and commemorate her birth and her passing.

Also, officials charged with donating the money collected in a fund set up in honour of the youngster had the pleasure of handing money over to Cecilia’s favourite causes.

Animals at the Toronto Zoo will be getting better veterinary care after $27,041 was donated to the zoo’s health centre. Also, trustees of the Cecilia Zhang Memorial fund, including Trinity-Spadina Councillor Olivia Chow, handed over $21,633 to Seneca Hill Public School to set up a science scholarship and a library fund in Cecilia’s name.

Another $5,408 will be donated to The Royal Conservatory of Music to cover an annual scholarship for piano lessons for a child 10 years of age or under.

In the meantime, Peel police who have taken over the investigation since the discovery of Cecilia’s body occurred in their jurisdiction, continue to probe the case, one that they have proclaimed will result in an arrest.

"This is absolutely a solvable crime — we have many clues," Peel Region police Insp. Frank Roselli said in the days after the body’s discovery.

It was originally thought the girl, a Grade 4 gifted student, was kidnapped for ransom, but no ransom demand was known to have been received.

On April 3, a crowd of about 2,000 came to say goodbye to Cecilia Zhang at a formal public memorial, the first to be held after Cecilia’s death was known.

It’s believed police are tracking down the large number of students who lived in the Zhang home where she was believed to have been taken naked from a guest bedroom in the house. She wasn’t in her own room because it had been occupied by a visiting grandfather.

It’s believed the kidnapping might have been a botched attempt by her abductors to seek a ransom — there were two hang-up calls to the Zhang home in the hours after her disappearance.

About this article:

By: Andrew Matte
Posted: Jun 20 2004 4:00 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto