WATCH: Thousands gathered at Willows Beach to remember two young sisters who were found dead in Oak Bay Christmas Day. Isabelle Raghem reports.
A sombre ceremony was held at Willows Beach Saturday evening, as a sea of candles cast a soft glow on the faces of two-thousand attendees.
For many, it was an opportunity to remember 6-year-old Chloe Berry and 4-year-old Aubrey Berry, sisters founded dead in their father’s Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day.
Ricky de Souza, principal of St. Christopher?s Montessori, the school attended by Aubrey, remembered the girls:
“Just remembering all the joy and love they brought to the school and to the community,” De Souza said, “there’s a void in our school now, there’s a hole in our classroom, there’s a hole in our hearts. They’ve touched a lot of lives in their short years.”
“I’m a spiritual person so I believe they’re in a good place, they’re okay,” said one attendee who did not personally know the sisters.
It’s a tragedy that’s shaken the community and made national headlines.
“[The vigil has] been astonishing,” said Oak Bay acting mayor Hazel Braithwaite, “I would say there are over two thousand people here and that is just a testament to how this has affected our community to the core.”
The Saturday vigil transformed vibrant willows beach, into a place of remembrance and a place where a memorial for the sisters will be installed in the new year.
“Because it was a place that the girls enjoyed so much, we would like to do something just to show and have a reminder of them here and let them live on in that way,” added Braithwaite.
“We pray this day for sarah and her family, who are united in their love and in their loss, may they be surrounded and upheld by unfailing love in the terrible grief they endure,” said Rev. Michelle Slater, Oak Bay United Church Lead Minister.
The girls were found dead on Christmas Day in Oak Bay, their father, Andrew Berry, was found on scene with self-inflicted injuries and was taken to hospital.
There is no word yet on his condition.
The mother, Sarah Cotton, was separated from the father and contacted police Christmas day after the girls were not returned to her as scheduled by their father.
The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit says they are investigating the homicide and are not looking for any suspects.