WATCH: A vigil was held Tuesday near Craigflower bridge to remember 14-year-old Reena Virk and focus on improving the lives of vulnerable teens like her. April Lawrence reports.
It was dark and rainy Tuesday but a memorial for 14-year-old Reena Virk was all about light and hope.
“My heart is so glad to see we are not alone in enduring this tragedy, the whole of Victoria is with us, and that is heartwarming,” Reena’s father Manjit Virk told the crowd.
More than 100 people came to the memorial at a park not far from where the teen was swarmed, beaten, and drowned.
“As the details, grisly as they emerged, it was a story of violence in our school system that had the most tragic consequences that anyone could imagine,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming.
While Reena’s family recalls the dark days following her murder they say they are now hopeful Reena’s death has caused real change, including new programs to help young people experiencing bullying.
“It gives me that hope, that sunshine, that things have changed and that her death has not gone in vain,” Manjit Virk said.
And looking at the young faces in the crowd, it certainly appeared the message was getting through.
“I’ve experienced bullying myself so I’m here to take a stand for everyone around me,” said high school student Genevieve Lacroix.
“This is a really important event for youths like us to go to so we understand to learn from what happened before,” said 16-year-old Jenny Malcolm.
Manjit Virk says he wants to promote the importance of understanding and inclusion among young people ? something that could have made a big difference for his daughter.
“All she wanted was to have friends and just include her and they rejected here and that was devastating for her,” he said.
It’s a reality many young people still go through although today, it’s often online.
It’s hoped people will take Reena’s memory, both in life and in death, and use it to create a safer, more welcoming environment for future generations.