Slain Toronto doctor called a ‘shining star’ by hospital director
Slain Toronto physician Elana Fric-Shamji was a “shining star” on track for a leadership role in the medical field, her boss told CBC News.
Wearing a purple ribbon to honour victims of domestic violence, Dr. Larry Erlick, medical director of family medicine at The Scarborough Hospital, said Fric-Shamji was a “first-class family doctor” adored by both her patients and her co-workers.
“She was fantastic — she had that fire and potential to be a great leader,” Erlick said. “She was someone to model. She was always upbeat and always made people feel happy.”
Erlick, who recruited Fric-Shamji last year, said that she was as devoted to medical policy as she was to her practice, especially with issues surrounding health care for women, the underprivileged and refugees.
Fric-Shamji was also a respected member of the Ontario Medical Association’s policy committee. She earned her medical degree from the University of Ottawa and later graduated from Duke University’s master’s degree program in public policy.
“Her future was bright,” Erlick said, “I was grooming her to be another leader, maybe replace me.”
Last Thursday, Fric-Shamji’s remains were found in a suitcase outside of Vaughan, Ont. Toronto police have charged her husband, Mohammed Shamji, with first-degree murder.
Shamji, 40, is a world-renowned neurosurgeon. He made a brief court appearance on Saturday and has been returned to police custody. Although Fric-Shamji’s friends and family have said the pair were having marital difficulties and there was an abusive relationship, none of that has been proved in court.
According to family and friends, the couple’s marriage was in trouble and Fric-Shamji had filed for divorce.
“She discussed things with me. There were issues,” Erlick said. “I know why, but that’s all I want to say about the matter.”
At Fric-Shamji’s office at The Scarborough Hospital, staff wore purple ribbons on Monday.
Mother of 3 young children
Erlick called Fric-Shamji a dedicated mother.
“She took them to school, picked them up … bathed them at night. [She] looked after the house and them,” he said.
The doctor’s three young children are in the care of a grandparent, her boss said.
Fric-Shamji’s sister, Carolina Lekic, called her “a nurturing mother” who was always involved in her children’s activities despite the demands of her work.
Growing up, Fric-Shamji was more of a bookworm, dedicated to school and to running, Lekic said. She became a lively woman, however, someone who was “smart, funny” and beloved by those in her circle of family and friends.
Those were among the things her family will pass on to Fric-Shamji’s children, Lekic said.
“Through these kids, we see her,” she said. “So there’s definitely always going to be the love and caring that my sister would want us to see carry throughout their lives.”