Peace and Healing Vigil slated for Sunday at Millennium Park
A Peace and Healing Vigil is being held in Millennium Park this Sunday after a barrage of tragedies have left the small B.C. town reeling.
Seven untimely deaths in the space of less than three weeks have left many people struggling with sadness and despair, according to vigil co-host Jana Spender.
“It’s been one tragedy. Then another. Then another, and another … and I think what happened in Orlando (a mass shooting at a gay nightclub killing 49 people and injuring 53 others) is part of it, and the American election … ,” Spender said. “I saw a post from one lady who said she couldn’t see her way through it – she felt very overwhelmed.”
She said the outpouring of local pain and confusion on social media sparked some suggestions for a smudging ceremony or something – anything – to help people through what has been, for many, an incredibly trying and negative time.
That’s when she and fellow vigil co-host Deb McIntosh (city councillor, food bank manager and museum/Zuckerberg Island manager) decided to take action.
“We just said, ‘okay, then, let’s do it,” she said, “and that was that.
“It was crazy to see – within a day or two, 60 people had committed to going. There’s obviously a need in our community.”
“You don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to be (personally impacted by these specific events) – everyone is welcome,” she said. “I think sometimes we need to be reminded that we do have support; that we’re not alone.”
McIntosh seconded that notion whole-heartedly.
“We need to make a change; to come together even for just an hour of peace and community – if your community doesn’t have your back, who does?” McIntosh said, adding that the Orlando shooting has hit many locals very hard. “Lots of people either are, or have loved ones who are, members of the LGBTQ community.
“There’s been so much loss and grief lately.”
The event will be at Millennium Park Sunday from 7 to 8 p.m.
Speakers will include Gerry Rempel (fire chief and Aboriginal Elder), spiritual leader Joan Alexander, Anglican pastor Elizabeth Heuther, United Church minister Greg Powell, Nicole Hergert (who runs the Spectrum program for LGBTQ community members out of the United Church).
Rempel will conduct a smudging ceremony and all will discuss pain, grief and healing from different perspectives and paradigms.
“We all grieve differently,” McIntosh said, adding it’s a very informal gathering. “We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants – if you want to bring a chair, do. If you want to make up some signs, do. If you want to bring a candle, do. Whatever makes you comfortable.”
Ultimately, she said, it comes down to the quote on the Facebook event page they created for the vigil: “Where there is community, there is hope, where there is hope, there is love.”