Nigerian Social Worker Killed in Calgary

Nigerian Social Worker Killed in Calgary


Members of Calgary’s Nigerian community are in shock after a woman dedicated to helping the less fortunate was killed at a local care facility.

Deborah Onwu, a Nigerian immigrant who was a youth social worker employed by Wood’s Homes, was fatally stabbed Friday, allegedly at the hands of an 18-year-old she was caring for at an assisted living facility in the city’s southwest.

“We are shocked,” said Seun Ogunsola, president of the Nigerian Canadian Association of Calgary.

“You know these things happen, but you feel like Calgary is a safer community. You never think anything would happen in your community.”

While Ogunsola didn’t know Onwu, 47, personally, he said others reached out speaking about her kindness, gentle demeanour and dedication to her work.

“You don’t get into that kind of work if you don’t have the kindness and generosity to do that job,” he said, adding she paid the ultimate, and unfair, price doing what she loved.

Police arrived at a home in the 1800 block of 27th Avenue S.W. around 2:45 a.m. Friday where Onwu was given medical attention, but ultimately succumbed to her injuries.

Two hours later, a man police have identified as Brandon Jacob Spencer Newman, was arrested in downtown Calgary. He’s since been charged with second-degree murder and is slated to appear in court on Friday.

Ogunsola said tragedy is becoming far too common for members of the local Nigerian community.

Two years ago, Nigerian immigrant Nicholas Ozoechi Nwonye died in what police say was a random and unprovoked attack on a CTrain platform.

Nwonye, 46, was a father of three who had only recently moved to Canada with his wife and was pursuing a career in nursing. He, too, was remembered as a kind and empathetic individual taken far too soon.

When the local Nigerian association was made aware of Onwu’s death, members attempted to reach out to her next of kin. Ogunsola said it appears she had no immediate family in Calgary.

They are now trying to contact her family abroad and help support them financially and emotionally.

If possible, they will host a ‘Service of Songs’ at a local church to pay tribute to Onwu at a later date.

Ogunsola said incidents like this are uncommon back home in Nigeria. He fears Onwu’s death might overwhelm and frighten other members of the community.

He is urging those who feel that way to reach out to the Nigerian Canadian Association of Calgary.

“We’re here to help everybody,” he said.