(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

‘These children were the light of our lives’: Oak Bay gathers to honour sisters

Hundreds fill Willows park in ‘incredible show of support’ for sisters’ family

Video: Spencer Pickles/Black Press Media

As an estimated two thousand residents and guests started to break away in groups and file toward Beach Drive, a light drumming began near the water’s edge at Willows Beach. As the public vigil to honour the lives of little Chloe and Aubrey Berry ended, not far from the playground at Willows Beach Park where the sisters loved to play, a First Nations drumming circle performed into the crisp night air.

“I’ve had the pleasure to sit in front of that little girl last year when she was at Willows,” said James Taylor after the song finished. Taylor works for the school district sharing his grandfather’s stories and songs with the next generation. He met Chloe at École Willows Elementary in Oak Bay where she attended Kindergarten last year.

Video: Keri Coles/Oak Bay News

“I shared that song with her last year along with some of the stories that mean a lot to me,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “In that beautiful little face … in the picture she drew (that) I have at home. That honour song was for her … and the teaching behind that song that I shared with her goes out to you.”

It was a poignant moment to end an hour of poignant moments during the candlelight vigil, from descriptions of Aubrey, 4, playing Gabriel the Angel in the nativity pageant this year, to Chloe, 6, acting as mediator on the playground.

The sombre event Dec. 30 was in remembrance of the sisters whose bodies were found in an Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day. Their father, 43-year-old Andrew Berry, has been arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

But Saturday wasn’t about the investigation, and instead took on the themes of community, healing and love. The evening began with piano music, and attendees so quiet the lapping waves broke through between notes.

“We have all been shaken by this tragic event, not only here in Oak Bay but across our city, our province and our nation,” said Hazel Braithwaite, acting mayor of Oak Bay, who led the vigil. “There are no adequate words that can come close to describing this tragic loss or that can help us express our feelings and our grief. This touches us at our most basic level.”

Rev. Michelle Slater of Oak Bay United Church read an email from the girls’ grandparents Brenda and Malcolm, thanking attendees of the vigil. “We are extremely grateful for the kind support we and Sarah have been given at the most desperate of times. These children were the light of our lives and a big part of our extremely small family. We are so grateful that we shared their lives.”

The letter went on to thank all those who “gave the girls wonderful friendships” and the first responders who “were so kind Christmas night at a time of unfathomable loss.”

The Oak Bay park was full of people grieving and supporting each other. Most brought candles, some sang along with the performance of Hallelujah as they came together to “begin to heal” as Braithwaite said.

“We are here to affirm that, though six and four years old, their lives had meaning and purpose. Their lives mattered. The world was a more beautiful place because of them; a more loving and delightful place. People’s lives were changed because of Chloe and Aubrey’s living. Those impacts will continue now and into the future,” Slater said.

Family friend Sandra Hudson called the vigil an “incredible show of support” for the sisters’ mother, Sarah Cotton.

“She is a wonderful person and she’s really loved by this community, as were Chloe and Aubrey,” Hudson said. “I think all the people coming out tonight are bringing that love that Sarah has shown for so many back to her.”

Hudson described the deaths of the young girls as “the worst thing that could ever happen.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

(Spencer Pickles/Black Press Media)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Cyclist without helmet thrown onto windshield in Oak Bay

Despite damage to bike, cyclist uninjured following accident

Annual UVic Xmas tree sale goes on despite loss of beloved tree farmer

Mike Fleming of Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm partnered with students for annual fundraiser for nearly 20 years

Victoria tech companies donate record-breaking weight of food

VIATEC’s 16th annual food bank challenge raised $45,224.40 for Mustard Seed

City of Victoria responds to blind community’s B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case

The Canadian Federation of the Blind says bike lanes can be dangerous

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

One of Tori Stafford’s killers transferred to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Union says arrows and gasoline tossed at striking Comox Valley assisted living workers

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says arrows and gasoline were thrown at the picketers early in the week

Most Read