The Women’s Warrior song rang out across the rainy, desolate grounds of Hope’s Memorial Park Saturday. Desolate, save for a group of over 50 people who held red, white and blue candles with flames lit in the waning evening light.
They gathered, keeping the flames lit, as they shared memories of April Lee-Ann Parisian, who they haven’t heard from since early April. As the RCMP’s homicide team continues an investigation into her disappearance, family keep looking for her in community searches that stretch from the Fraser Canyon down into the Fraser Valley.
“She loved flowers, she loved gardening,” said Keitha Parisian, who raised April since she was three days old. She is both April’s grandmother and mother, she said, and “April is my baby.”
Keitha opened the Saturday candlelight vigil with stories about young April, stories which involved bringing her to powwows until the age of 16 when she asked her mom if she could stay home alone.
“I gave in and I said ‘Well, no more parties at home,’ I didn’t want any wild parties going on, ‘And definitely don’t drive my car,'” Keitha remembered.
“And what did she do? She drove my car and got in an accident with it and she nearly set the house on fire having a barbecue in the backyard,” she said, to laughs from those gathered.
Keitha also recalled her daughter helping her on the computer. Without April present, her Facebook accounts remain frozen, she can’t recall the passwords. “I loved her tremendously and I still do,” Keitha said.
“Her birthday is one day before mine, hers is on the 23rd of April and I’m on the 24th, and we always celebrated together and this year it didn’t happen,” she said, her voice choking up with emotion.
“I can’t talk about her anymore because it hurts me too much. My spirit hurts, I want her home. Even if she’s into the spirit world I want to have her back here so we can take care of her properly.”
Jade McLean said her cousin April was never without a smile on her face, “she was just a joy to be around.” And as McLean moved around throughout her life, contact from April was constant – asking how she was doing, encouraging her to keep in touch with her own spirituality. “I still hope that April will come home, because no one knew love or how to give love like April did,” McLean said Saturday.
April is described by police as an Indigenous female with blonde hair and blue eyes, 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches) tall, weighing 127 kilograms (280 pounds.) She is known to shop in Chilliwack and is a well-known face around Hope, but is generally a homebody at her home in Spuzzum.
Anyone with information should call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).