Vigil mes­sage: ‘We are here for you’

Com­mu­nity came to­gether

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - TINA COMEAU THEVANGUARD.CA

Tears flowed as can­dles flick­ered at a vigil in Yar­mouth’s Frost Park.

The show of sup­port was strong as the com­mu­nity pro­vided a mes­sage – not only with its words, but also with its pres­ence.

The mes­sage: ‘We are here for you.’

Peo­ple turned out by the hun­dreds for the Nov. 26 can­dle­light vigil as a show of sup­port for the fam­ily of the young girl who died at Yar­mouth’s Christ­mas pa­rade of lights af­ter slip­ping un­der­neath a mov­ing float.

At the vigil sup­port was also ex­tended to the first re­spon­ders, hos­pi­tal staff, adults and chil­dren who wit­nessed the ter­ri­ble in­ci­dent, and to any­one im­pacted by this sad com­mu­nity tragedy.

Just days be­fore the vigil, the com­mu­nity had gath­ered in Frost Park to cel­e­brate the start of the hol­i­day sea­son af­ter the town’s of­fi­cial tree light­ing. The mood then was cel­e­bra­tory. The mood last week was som­bre and poignant. As mu­sic filled the air peo­ple hugged, cried and com­forted one an­other.

Their thoughts were of MaCali Cormier, the four-year-old girl who lost her life Nov. 24 on what was meant to be a fun fam­ily and com­mu­nity event. And thoughts were of her fam­ily, who were present at the vigil, as they deal with their grief and heart­break from their dev­as­tat­ing loss.

His voice break­ing with emo­tion, Yar­mouth MLA Zach Churchill ad­dressed the gath­er­ing, and the fam­ily.

“Know that our hearts bleed with you,” he said. “I do hope that the shar­ing of this grief with so many here tonight, the ex­pres­sions of com­pas­sion and love that peo­ple are en­gaged with here and across this prov­ince and across this coun­try, can, at the very least give you some strength – the strength I know that you will need as you face the com­ing days and as you face a change of course in your life’s jour­ney.”

Churchill also thanked the first re­spon­ders who not only put them­selves in dan­ger but ex­pose them­selves to in­cred­i­ble trau­matic events while work­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“It en­tails great self-sac­ri­fice and it en­acts a toll on you all,” he said.

Yar­mouth Mayor Pam Mood told MaCali’s fam­ily the com­mu­nity cares deeply about them.

“Just know that we love you, we care about you, and ev­ery sin­gle per­son here, and many that couldn’t come, are here for ev­ery­thing, for meals, a shoul­der and those hour-long phone calls that we have. I’m here on the other end of the phone or for what­ever you need,” she said.

She had a mes­sage for the fam­ily and to oth­ers who are hurt­ing.

“A lot of peo­ple will say to the fam­ily, to the first re­spon­ders, to the peo­ple on the side of the road that were there that evening, to ev­ery­body that was af­fected, they will say ‘Stay strong,’ and I’m go­ing to say, ‘Don’t bother.’ We don’t have to be strong, what we have to do now to heal is be weak. We have to cry, we have to lean on each other, we have to just let it all out, we have to let the feel­ings sur­face, oth­er­wise they just go to the bot­tom. And we have to be there for each other be­cause not one of us can do this alone, es­pe­cially this fam­ily, not one of us. And so don’t be afraid to feel what you’re feel­ing.”

Songs and prayers were shared dur­ing the evening. Peo­ple were en­cour­aged to hold hands as they prayed for the young girl, her fam­ily and the com­mu­nity.

If you had to sum up the night: it was sad, it was com­fort­ing, it was heart­break­ing, it was beau­ti­ful. Peo­ple were en­cour­aged to wear pur­ple since it was MaCali’s favourite colour. And many did.

Ken­dra Mills, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the vigil along with Chelle­sey Lusk, said she was taken aback by just how many peo­ple did turn out.

“It was a great turnout. I was speech­less, I re­ally was,” she said. “Look­ing over ev­ery­one with the can­dles lit was so amaz­ing. For a small com­mu­nity, last night showed we all can come to­gether as one.”

The next day she men­tioned a new fundraiser that was start­ing up for the fam­ily and in­volves the sale of pur­ple heart stick­ers, with the hash­tag #cal­istrong.

And she said the com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to step up.

“I reached out to Cana­dian Tire … about them do­nat­ing a pur­ple Christ­mas tree for the fam­ily,” she added. “They did even bet­ter, they’re dec­o­rat­ing the tree with a pic­ture of Cali on it and will have a do­na­tion box for a week on dis­play in the store at the end of week. All pro­ceeds, the tree and dec­o­ra­tions will be go­ing to the fam­ily.”

An­other group – one of many – that has also reached out is the JStrong Fund group set up in mem­ory of Yar­mouth teenager Jadon Robin­son, who died years ago in a car ac­ci­dent. The group has been sell­ing #JStrong toques for $20 with all pro­ceeds go­ing to the little girl’s fam­ily.

Her fu­neral ser­vice was held Nov. 30. Memo­rial dona­tions are be­ing ac­cepted at Huskil­son’s Fu­neral Homes to a trust fund estab­lished for MaCali’s brother and sis­ter, Tessa and Matthew.

Mean­while, as he spoke at the Nov. 26 vigil, Churchill en­cour­aged peo­ple to re­flect on and ap­pre­ci­ate the pre­cious­ness of life and how for any of us, noth­ing is ev­ery guar­an­teed.

“If we can treat our time here, treat each other, as the pre­cious com­modi­ties that they are; treat each other with kind­ness, with re­spect, with love and com­pas­sion then I think that we can al­low that light that was lost to us … be rekin­dled in each and ev­ery one us,” he said. “And through our ac­tions and our deeds we can al­low the legacy of this beau­ti­ful young child, who only brought love and joy into this world, to live on in each and ev­ery one of us.”

TINA COMEAU

The heart­break was ev­i­dent as peo­ple at­tended a can­dle­light vigil held in Yar­mouth on Nov. 26.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF STEVE BERRY

The beauty of Frost Park was matched by the beauty in peo­ple’s hearts at a vigil in Yar­mouth.

TINA COMEAU

The lights of Frost Park pro­vided a back­drop for the flick­er­ing of can­dles dur­ing the vigil.

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