In Memorium: Usamah Ansari

April 15, 2008

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Usamah Ansari. Usamah passed away early on Sunday April 13th 2008 after being hit by a speeding taxi.  A funeral service organized by his family has already been held.  However, his close friends might organize a smaller memorial ceremony to provide a space for everyone to be together in remembrance of Usamah. For more specific questions, call 604-719-1871.

aatay huway azaan howay jaatay howay namaz
itnay qaleel waqt main aai aur chalay gai
lahoo main bhegay dareeda anchal
qasam hai tum ko bhula na dena

Usamah Ansari won the Top Student Award in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Dean's Convocation Medal when he graduated in Summer 2007.  He was one of our very best undergraduate students.  Those of us who were fortunate enough to have taught him, and learned from and with him, saw in Usamah a formidable mind, extraordinary scholarly potential and an amazing, compassionate, and magnanimous human being.  Usamah Ansari will continue to live in our memories.

To honour his memory the Department of Sociology and Anthropology has named its Top Student Award, the Usamah Ansari Top Student Award.

Marilyn Gates, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, attests to his brilliance by writing the following piece for the Dean’s Convocation Medal.

"Usamah Ahmad has been a truly outstanding student throughout his undergraduate career at SFU, consistently producing work that would be regarded as brilliant at the graduate level.  His professors have been awed by his sophisticated mastery and critical interpretations of social theory, his creative explorations of the articulations between such theory and practice, and his active translations of the contemporary social imagination into grassroots engagement in the struggle for social justice in the community. In addition, a talented writer and a gifted communicator, he has found the time to share his work at academic conferences and to publish in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and in popular and literary venues. At the same time, Mr. Ahmad has served as an exceptional catalyst and role model for fellow students through his personal integrity, and respectful and insightful contributions to debate in the classroom and in other university forums. There is no doubt that Mr. Ahmad’s demonstrated ability to bring new insights into the critique of social structural oppression will result not only in an outstanding academic career at the graduate level and beyond, but also underscores the potential of graduates in the social sciences to make a real and lasting difference as conscientious citizens of the world through intellectual and practical engagement in human rights and anti-racist issues. As such, Mr. Ahmad is a first-rate ambassador for Simon Fraser University in general and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in particular."

Usamah entered the MA program at York University in September 2007.  A week prior to his death, Usamah had submitted his Masters thesis.  He was in his first year of his Masters degree and had just been accepted in the PhD programme at the University of Toronto. 

Dany Lacombe
Associate Professor and Acting Chair
April 16, 2008