As a child, Annemarie Desloges followed her parents to postings around the world. She then chose the same path for herself.
Ms. Desloges joined Canada’s foreign service in 2008, climbing the ladder with postings in Delhi and, most recently, with Canada’s High Commission in Kenya. Seen as a rising star, she had taken on a new role with the Canada Border Services Agency and calmly embraced visits to refugee camps across East Africa. She married her best friend, Robert Munk, with her union leader saying the pair became a “single unflappable unit” abroad.
They were together when terror struck. Ms. Desloges, 29, died Saturday, when she and Mr. Munk were among those targeted in a brazen attack on a Nairobi mall.
She was fatally wounded – the first Canadian diplomat killed since 2006, when Glyn Berry died in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan. Mr. Munk was injured.
“Annemarie was one of our bright young lights, and hers was a career brimming with promise,” Tim Edwards, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers union, said in a statement Sunday. “Today we grieve the loss not only of a warm and intelligent friend and colleague, but a lifetime’s potential tragically unfilled.”
Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji also died in the attack. Mr. Damji, a married 59-year-old father of three, travelled frequently between Canada and Kenya, said family friend Shakeela Begum.
Ms. Begum said the family had yet to confirm exactly how Mr. Damji was killed.
She said his family is in shock. “They can’t believe he was here just in early August – his last visit to Vancouver.”
In a brief statement, the family said they are “deeply saddened” by the incident, and that their prayers were with the loved ones of those affected. They also requested their privacy during this “devastating time.”
Ms. Begum declined to talk about what kind of business Mr. Damji had in Africa.
She said the family is planning for a funeral in B.C. next weekend. “He was a great person, a very happy-go-lucky person,” she said.
Two other Canadians were also among the wounded, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. Their names were not released.
Ms. Desloges followed in the footsteps of her parents and joined the foreign service. “She understood well the challenges and hazards of diplomatic life, but believed resolutely in its importance and looked forward to a long career,” Mr. Edwards said.
Over the past year, she’d been processing refugee claims from East Africa, with Mr. Edwards estimating that Ms. Desloges and a small team of four helped thousands of refugees resettle and begin a new life in Canada. “Annemarie was sharp and meticulous in her work – a true professional – and expressed herself with a poise and confidence which belied her youth,” Mr. Edwards said.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird paid tribute to the diplomat. “We have no doubt that Annemarie touched the lives of many, and it is for that, that she will always be remembered,” he said.
Ms. Desloges is survived by her husband, who is a Danish citizen and Canadian permanent resident; parents Michel and Madeleine, who live in the Ottawa area; sister Julie, who is also in the foreign service, and brother-in-law Laurent. Mr. Edwards said Ms. Desloges will be remembered for her generosity and sense of humour, and that she and her husband formed a “tight team managing the ups and downs of life abroad.”
“Our hearts go out to Robert as he copes with his unspeakable loss and recovers from injuries sustained in the attack,” Mr. Edwards said, saying the foreign service is devastated to mourn one of its own. “We pay tribute to her optimism, to her commitment to country and to the achievements of a career which ended much too early.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story identified Ms. Desloges' husband, Robert Munk, as a Dutch citizen; he is Danish. Incorrect information was provided to the reporter.
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