Not only dealing with the pain of losing a loved one, Surrey’s Amar family has been hit hard by the rising cost of living this fall.
Manbir “Mani” Amar died following a dispute with a Newton-area neighbour on Aug. 31, more than two months ago.
Police say the 40-year-old Amar was killed during a physical confrontation between two men in the 14100-block of 61 Avenue, a block west of École Woodward Hill, just before 2 p.m. that Wednesday afternoon.
A single father, Amar left behind children aged 12, 11 and nine, and they’re now living with Amar’s older brother, Gurbinder Amar, and his family, who live in the same area.
“It’s been difficult for all of us,” Gurbinder said. “His kids are around my kids’ ages — I have three of them, too. They get along like brothers and sisters. There’s been a lot of laughter in recent weeks, but also a lot of tears.”
As the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) continues to investigate how Mani met his end, Gurbinder and his wife struggle with the reality of raising three additional children, six in total.
“He (Mani) was given custody of the kids after he separated with his wife,” Gurbinder noted. “She’s a lovely lady, but I think Mani had a certain way he wanted to raise the kids. The mother is in the picture but it will take some time to get her back to speed. She hasn’t been involved as a parent over the past few years. As uncle, I’m helping with that transition.”
Mani was known as a filmmaker who worked with vulnerable youth to steer them away from gang life, among other activist-minded pursuits in life.
Mani was a “superhero” in the eyes of his kids, Gurbinder said.
“We don’t really know what happened to him that day (Aug. 31),” he said, “all we know is that he was in some kind of disagreement with a neighbour, possibly about garbage on a vacant lot. That’s the rumour mill, and we’ve heard all sorts of things from many people about how my brother might have lost his life.
“IHIT hasn’t told us much, only that they’re waiting for additional reports – toxicology, pathology, the cause of death, and interviews being done,” Gurbinder added. “We’re sitting clueless right now and we have no idea how long the investigation will take and whether any charges will be laid, it’s frustrating. We need to move on with our lives, and this (investigation) is holding us up.”
To help Mani’s kids through tough times, Gurbinder’s friend Jeny Yeung launched an online fundraiser that has collected close to $12,000 in a month.
In a post on gofundme.com, Yeung says Gurbinder’s additional responsibilities have created extra financial pressures due to funeral and household costs, including groceries, and the extracurricular activities Mani’s kids are involved in.
“The gofundme was not my idea, because in our culture we don’t usually accept charity, we give charity,” said Gurbinder, who works in the insurance business. “The money raised, it’s all about helping the children right now and making sure they’re taken care of and safe, getting on with life the best they can, mentally and physically.”
Gurbinder remembers the good times with his brother, including his work to write music for one of Mani’s film projects.
“I miss him and the arguments we had, and also the loving moments, the family times, going to the movies and things like that,” Gurbinder said.
“He was my baby brother.”