The right thing to do for Aya

Two donors, Dr. Moshe Nahir and Dr. Tsippi Guttmann-Nahir are standing in front of a building on the campus of the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Moshe Nahir and Dr. Tsippi Guttmann-Nahir chose to plan a bequest for the creation of a scholarship in memory of their daughter, Aya Nahir, for whom music was highly therapeutic.

“You remember, Moshe?”

“Yes. Yes, of course I remember.”

Tsippi Guttmann-Nahir and Moshe Nahir draw on their memories to describe Aya, their beloved daughter. Her incredible talent in music, drawing and languages. Her wicked sense of humour. Her brilliant intellect that astounded her teachers. Her legendary kindness. Her thirst for learning. But also, hardships, mental illness and repeated hospital stays.

“When she was out of the hospital after a psychosis, she would come home, she would sit by the piano, she would pound the piano and it was healing for her. That’s what drew us to the music,” says Tsippi to explain why they’ve decided to create a music scholarship in the memory of their daughter Aya, who took her own life in 2008.

Even in her darkest moments, Aya always put the needs of others before her own. As a result, her parents felt it was important for the scholarship, which they will create through a future gift, to reflect the generosity their daughter was known for.

“That’s what she would have liked. On the one hand, it’s related to music, on the other hand, it’s helping young people. It was the right thing to do for her,” says her father. The couple, new to Ottawa, decided to create a scholarship at the University of Ottawa after hearing about the School of Music’s excellent reputation.

Ten years after Aya’s death, the pain is still raw. But some good has come of the tragedy, both for deserving students who will benefit from the scholarship and for the Nahirs themselves.

“There is a memorial part to this that is very soothing to me,” says Tsippi. “One of the ways I grieve is by turning her into a living memory. Aya could not carry herself in this world independently. So I carried her. I carried her through pregnancy, and I’m carrying her now. She’s with me all the time, she really is.”

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