In memory of a York University grad gunned down during the July 2012 Danzig Street shooting, students, community members and business leaders are once again lacing up their gym shoes to play the sport he loved and support an award in his name.
Joshua Yasay (BA Spec. Hons. ’11) was 23 years old when he became one of two innocent bystanders killed in a gang-related shooting in Scarborough. To fund the Joshua Yasay Award for Excellence in Criminology and Community Service, York’s second annual Joshua Yasay Charity Basketball Tournament will take place July 12 from 9am to 5pm at the Tait MacKenzie Gym.
With $15,000 already raised, organizers hope this year’s tournament will generate another $10,000 for a total of $25,000 to endow the Yasay award, which is given annually to fourth-year criminology students who have positively impacted their communities through civic engagement and stewardship.
Gillian Maharaj (BA ’13), the award’s inaugural recipient, first met the Yasay family during last year’s tournament.
“The connection I have felt with his family is quite intense and very humbling,” she said. “I think about them frequently and feel a strong connection. Their love for Joshua is evident in every word they speak. This award is symbolic for them. It seems as if Joshua’s legacy lives on through the recipient of the award.”
Now a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, Maharaj continues to volunteer at the Scarborough Courthouse, where Yasay’s trial was held.
“Joshua was always interested in social justice and so am I,” she said. “As a recipient of the award, I feel motivated and encouraged to work even harder to promote social objectives, not only for myself, but for the Yasay family.”
For Shawn Malik, a criminology student and president of the Criminology Society at York, helping to raise funds for the Yasay award was something he and his peers jumped at the opportunity to do.
Last year, the group raised about $1,000 on campus.
“We didn’t know Joshua personally, but from what we read about him, his values were very much aligned with both the club and program’s vision of working within at-risk communities,” Malik said. “Many crimes and violence are grounded in community-based concerns. Joshua was involved in many after-school initiatives to make a difference and we all try to emulate that as much as possible.”
The Joshua Yasay Charity Basketball Tournament is open to players 18 years or older. Cost is $40 per person or $200 per team of five players and includes a T-shirt and boxed lunch for each. Deadline for registration is Friday, July 4.