Former Glen Ames teacher killed in Burkina Faso

Tammy Chen, right, and her husband, Mehsen Fenaiche were killed Sunday night in Burkina Faso. Before moving overseas, Chen taught at Glen Ames Senior Public School. PHOTO: Facebook

A former Glen Ames teacher and her husband are among the victims of Sunday’s terror attack at a cafe in the capital of Burkina Faso.

Tammy Chen, 34, is being remembered as “a very passionate, charismatic and diligent teacher,” according to a statement from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Chen taught in the French Immersion program at Glen Ames Senior Public School on Williamson Road from 2011 to 2013, when she left to pursue her PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Chen was living with her new husband, Mehsen Fenaiche, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, according to multiple reports. At least 18 people were killed when gunmen, suspected Islamist terrorists, opened fire at a restaurant in Ouagadougou Sunday night. Another Canadian, Bilel Diffalah, who was working as a volunteer in the area, was also killed.

Calling the attack “a senseless act of violence,” the TDSB community is remembering Chen fondly and “with heavy hearts.”

Colleagues, parents and former students are memorializing Chen through posts on social media, noting that she was an enthusiastic, popular teacher who is missed.

“Not only was she respected at well-liked by students, parents and colleagues, she was always willing to go the extra mile to help students,” reads the statement from TDSB. “The TDSB, together with the Glen Ames Senior Public School Community, is deeply saddened by her passing and our thoughts are with her family, friends and those that knew her.”

Chen was the president and co-founder of a Canadian registered non-profit organization, Bright Futures of Burkina Faso, “which supports education and micro-lending initiatives in urban and rural communities in Burkina Faso,” according to her resume posted to the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Development Studies website. Her resume highlights the time she spent at Glen Ames, noting that she “created an educational program that encompasses a social justice framework, where students created their own businesses and chose a charity to donate their money to” and “taught students about their rights.”

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