January 6, 2021

There are few words to express the deep pain and sorrow we feel today. We have lost another brave frontline hero on December 29, 2020 as a result of complications related to COVID-19.

Shihab Shams was a direct support professional and member of both CUPE Local 2191 and CUPE Local 4400 who dedicated his life to supporting people with disabilities.

“Shihab was a beacon of inspiration for all those who had the pleasure of working with him – he was fiercely dedicated to his work and was consummately kind and compassionate,” says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “We are blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Shihab; importantly, how precious it is to dedicate one’s life to enriching the lives of others.”

As is the case for many direct support workers, Shihab put his life on the line in order to support some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic. He worked two jobs—one providing vital support to adults with disabilities in group home settings, and the other supporting children with disabilities within Toronto District School Board.

“It takes profound strength of character to do the work he did, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shihab, and the memory of him, epitomises what it means to be truly selfless. We won’t let Shihab’s death be in vain—we will commemorate his life by continuing the fight for improved protections, good jobs, and decent wages for frontline workers,” says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Social Services Chair.
Shihab is survived by his wife, daughter, and family in the United States and Bangladesh.

“We ask that everyone join in sending their sincere condolences to the Shams’ family, friends, colleagues, and the countless individuals he provided direct support to,” says Russell Harris, CUPE Developmental Service Sector Coordinating Committee Chair.
To support the Shams’ family please click on the below link.