Known to his friends and family as “Soli,” Soleiman Faqiri is remembered for his kindness, generosity, warm personality, great sense of humour, and strong devotion to his faith and family. Soleiman was born in war-torn Afghanistan on New Year’s Day, 1986. He was just 7-years-old when his parents (Ghulam and Maryam) brought the family to Canada as refugees in 1993, settling in Pickering, Ontario. Soleiman had four siblings: three brothers (Yusuf, Sohrab, Ali) and one sister (Pelatin).
One of the strongest themes throughout Soleiman’s life, from his early childhood to his adult years, was his strong devotion and unwavering loyalty to his family. He was a dutiful son, always eager to please his parents. When he was 14 or 15, Soli would work 20 to 30 hours a week as a janitor with his father’s cleaning company. He often gave his money to his father to help support the family.
Soli was also a loyal brother who loved spending time with his siblings. Throughout his childhood, Soli enjoyed playing Nintendo and Supernintendo video games with his brothers, usually defeating them at Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, NHL 98, and NHL 99.
The short time Soleiman spent with his nieces and nephews was always filled with love. He spent a lot of time caring for his niece Fatima and his nephew Ibrahim, both of whom thought the world of their uncle. One of his nephews–Musa–was actually named by Soli.
More than any other family member, Soli was always closest to his mother. Following the birth of her youngest son, Ali, Maryam began experiencing serious health problems. Although Soli was only 9-years-old, he took on the responsibility of caring for his beloved mother and infant brother. Whenever Maryam was too unwell to hold Ali, Soli would heat the formula, hold his baby brother, and carefully feed him. Soli would even change his brother’s diapers and clean the house for his mother while she was bedridden. Remarkably, Soleiman took on these responsibilities for 3 years of his childhood, until he was 12-years-old.
Soli was also a skilled athlete who enjoyed playing sports such as soccer, rugby, football, and basketball. At 12-years-old, Soleiman played on the senior soccer team, where he was both the youngest player and the lead scorer. At Pineridge Secondary School, Soli played on the football team and was captain of his high school rugby team. He even played rugby with the Ajax Wanderers R.U.F.C., a rugby union club.
Throughout his teens and adult life, Soleiman was considered intellectually gifted. His brilliance allowed him to excel at school and ultimately master 3 languages: English, Farsi, and Arabic. In high school, Soli was a straight-A student and a gifted chess player who played against friends during lunch break and rarely lost a game.
Not only did Soleiman teach himself how to read and speak Arabic, but he also taught his mother the Quran, his older brother Yusuf how to pray, and his younger brother Sohrab how to drive. He took his youngest brother, Ali, under his wing and served as a life-long mentor.
After high school, Soleiman was accepted into the prestigious Environmental Engineering program at the University of Waterloo, known to take only the brightest scientific minds. It seemed like Soli could accomplish anything that he put his mind to.
Unfortunately, Soli was less than a year into his studies when he was involved in a traumatic car crash that forever altered the course of his life. Following the accident, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Unable to complete his education, Soli returned home to live with his family. Although he no longer attended classes, Soleiman’s passion for learning continued, as he studied the Quran in the hopes of one day becoming an imam.
In the 11 years following his diagnosis, Soleiman’s parents and siblings kept him safe, caring for him the best they could.