20 years later, Reena Virk’s murder continues to inspire anti-bullying programs

20 years later, Reena Virk's murder continues to inspire anti-bullying programs

WATCH: It was a murder that continues to haunt many on Vancouver Island, nearly two decades after it happened. Reena Virk’s family and other supporters are planning a memorial near the spot in Saanich where she died. Isabelle Raghem has more. 

It’s a sombre anniversary that brings reflection.

“Not just for us to remember her death,” says Mandeep Mucina of UVic’s School of Child and Youth Care.” But what she did for us in terms of violence.”

“It put in focus the issues of racism, discrimination and youth violence in a way that maybe we didn’t have to think about before,” says Shauna Janz, Executive Director of Learning Through Loss.

An event called Remembering Reena: A Community’s Commitment to NonViolence will be held Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Craigflower Schoolhouse in Saanich.

The event will honour fourteen-year-old Reena Virk. Nov. 14, 1997, she was lured to a secluded area under the Craigflower Bridge and beaten by a group of teens, before her head was held under water until she drowned.

“Many programs, research, art, many things that have been in place as a result of Reena’s murder,” says of the event’s organizers Rachel Calder, executive director of Artemis Place Society.

The program WITS, short for ‘walk away, ignore, talk it out, seek help’ was fast-tracked by the 1997 murder.

“When Reena died it was a wake-up call,” says Bonnie Leadbeater of UVic’s Department of Psychology.

The WITS developer says there’s much more to do.

“I think that physical violence is much less frequent but we’ve moved to other kinds of violence, like cyberbullying for example.”

The event begins at 12:30 p.m. A number of speakers will be featured, including Reena?s father, Manjit Virk and Minister of Education Rob Fleming.


Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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