Virk me­mo­rial a som­bre oc­ca­sion

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE -

SAANICH — Reena Virk strug­gled to un­der­stand why peo­ple considered her dif­fer­ent and a tar­get for school bul­lies, her fa­ther said Tues­day at a me­mo­rial to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the Vic­to­ria teenager’s death.

Stand­ing just steps away from the beach where his daugh­ter was mur­dered in Novem­ber 1997, Man­jit Virk said Reena was a naive, 14-year-old girl try­ing to find her­self in a hard world and ended up the vic­tim of a “hor­ri­ble act.”

About 200 peo­ple gath­ered out­side a his­toric school­house along the Gorge Wa­ter­way to mark the som­bre an­niver­sary dur­ing a pound­ing rain­storm. The site over­looked the beach near where Virk was killed and is not far from the Craigflower Bridge where the teen was lured and beaten by a group of girls.

“When she went to school, she had a hard time,” said Man­jit Virk. “She was very puz­zled. Why would peo­ple pick on her?”

He said as par­ents, he and his wife, Su­man, were wor­ried about their daugh­ter’s strug­gles to find ac­cep­tance among her peers. Virk said his daugh­ter was trust­ing, and their at­tempts to warn her about pos­si­ble trou­bles ahead did not sink in to a teenager seek­ing her in­de­pen­dence.

“We al­ways told her, ‘Reena, this is a part of life. Some peo­ple have dif­fer­ent val­ues. They will mis­treat you, but you al­ways make sure you be kind with them. You don’t re­tal­i­ate. You don’t fight back. Talk to your teach­ers. Talk to us.’ ”

Virk’s death made in­ter­na­tional head­lines af­ter it was re­ported she was the vic­tim of a swarm­ing at­tack by a group of girls who in­vited her to meet un­der the bridge to hang out. The at­tack started when one of the girls ex­tin­guished a lit cig­a­rette on her fore­head and ended with her death in shal­low wa­ter near the bridge.

Six girls were con­victed of as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm and sen­tenced to up to one year in cus­tody.

War­ren Glowatski and Kelly El­lard were con­victed of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der af­ter they fol­lowed the limp­ing girl away from the fight and drowned her in the Gorge.

“Lit­tle did she know this world is not a very safe place for her,” said Man­jit Virk.

Glowatski was 16 at the time of Virk’s death and has been re­leased on pa­role, while El­lard, who was 15, re­mains in prison.

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