By Sierra Bein
Nadia Marzouca was the first-year student who made friends with all the upper years and knew everyone in her program. She not only loved her studies in film at Ryerson, but genuinely loved the people around her too.
“Film was definitely her life — what she was most passionate about,” said Luke Villemaire, Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS) vice-president finance. “She was super friendly, a burst of energy, really eager to meet everyone in the room and make them all feel welcomed.”
Marzouca died in the early morning of Sept. 30 on campus, where police pronounced her dead on scene. The third-year film student did not just affect her classmates, but she has deeply moved students all over Ryerson.
A large black-and-white image of Marzouca is still on display at Lake Devo, where a vigil was held on Oct. 1. Friends and family gathered to tell stories about her, describing her as a boundless and accepting girl — who also gave the best hugs. Marzouca made her own clothes, and had even made her own prom dress. She worked in films and also made many of her own costumes for production. Some of her friends spoke about how she helped them get through their rough times during first year.
Marzouca was deeply involved in her student community, working as the director of Image Arts at RCDS and starting the Film Collective, to help support other film students at school.
“She saw the need for specifically [a] film [group],” said Casey Yuen, president of RCDS. “Out of everyone, Nadia was the one who spoke up and gave us a new perspective and I loved that about her … She wanted to delve deeper and get into the nitty-gritty of what we were discussing. She would be the odd one out and I guess we relied on her.”
A major part of Marzouca’s Film Collective was to help students build connections in the industry and help them graduate with the skills they needed in the real world.
“Nadia was way more than just a bright energetic ball of fun, she was extremely layered and extremely wonderful,” said Tavia Bakowski, RCDS vice-president events. “She had so many aspects of her that you would only dream of seeing in someone, especially in someone that represents a bunch of other students.”
Bakowski remembers Nadia as an influential leader and an even stronger friend. She said that their relationship really grew after their first student-group leader retreat together.
“At that retreat she actually changed and shifted my perspective on how to act as a student leader,” Bakowski said. “I was still starting out as a student leader and she created this open and welcome environment. From there I deepened that relationship to her supporting me and me being there listening when she needed to talk.
“I don’t think I ever went to an RCDS event that she didn’t show up to … She was always there, always.”
The event that was put together by the RCDS entitled “Dear Nadia;” — to be held on Oct. 7 — is a celebration of Marzouca’s life with students submitting their art to tell Nadia’s story.
“This event is going to be a platform to allow our students to begin healing,” Bakowski said. “In a medium that we all really enjoy.”
The semicolon has become a symbol of surviving the battle with mental health, and the ability to overcome struggles in life, which is the reason that it is used in the title of her event. It means keep going when you could have stopped.
Bakowski, who identifies as someone who deals with a mental health issue, says that these topics need to be spoken about more openly.
“Especially in the creative field, we need everyone to realize we’re all here for each other. We’re not just here to make friendships for alliances,” she said. “We’re here to make friendships so we can support each other, especially through times like these.”
Although FCAD and RCDS students have been coming together for support, the Ryerson Engineering Student Society has also come out to help set up the memorial for Nadia.
“I was so happy at how many people Nadia had affected,” Yuen said. “If she knew how many people cared and remembered her, I think she would be so happy right now.”