Fire victim remembered, family accepts honorary diploma at memorial

The mother of international student Ying Tang will never walk the halls of Centennial College alongside her daughter as she once dreamed.

Tang, 20, was one of two women killed in the midday fire on Oct. 30 at her Kimbermount Drive home in the Kennedy Road and Finch Avenue area.

“She often talked about her school, teachers and friends,” Xiyuan Fang said Nov. 17 at a memorial for her daughter.

Fang travelled from China with her husband to make funeral arrangements and close their daughter’s affairs in Canada.

The blaze, which officials say was likely caused by a cigarette, also took the life of another woman, whose name has not been officially released, and sent 22-year-old Yuanjie Guan to hospital.

“Her friends in China will never see her or hear her stories about Toronto,” said Fang, who was presented with an honorary diploma from the college.

Students, faculty and staff took part in a ceremony at Centennial’s Residence and Conference Centre on Progress Avenue. The memorial was held in both Chinese and English.

Tang, known as Gloria to friends, was an international student from China who had been in Canada since 2009 in Centennial College’s hospitality and tourism program. She was described as kind, shy and beautiful by her peers.

“She was the kind of friend that would stand by me,” said Tiffany Ling, a close friend and classmate who comforted her beloved friend’s mother during the service.

Ling said the last time they spoke was in their wellness class. Tang expressed her excitement to go home for Christmas and her plans of being engaged to her boyfriend.

“I thought she was going to have a wonderful life,” Ling said.

Tang was in the last year of her program.

Friend Haijin Gao said although he only knew Gloria a year, they shared their dreams of bringing their families to Canada to live a happy life. He said he will never forget her.