Several hundred people gathered in Millennium Park in Castlegar Sunday night for a peace vigil after recent tragedies in the community, and the London terror attack that killed one of their own.
The family of Chrissy Archibald — the Castlegar native who was killed in the London Bridge attack — attended and stood together as Chrissy’s father Greg spoke to the crowd.
“We are here, one family amongst many, who are grieving the loss or illness of a loved one. There is nothing that anyone can say or do to make the pain that we are feeling go away. However, the overwhelming outpouring of kind thoughts, offers to help, and love, that we are receiving, help us to persevere in these heartbreaking circumstances,” Archibald said.
“I thank our family, our friends, and our community, for their love and caring support. We are immeasurably grateful to all the people in Castlegar, Canada, and around the world who have performed acts of kindness in Chrissy’s name. Thank you.”
The Twin Rivers choir performed two songs, the second through tears after Archibald’s statement.
Castlegar Coun. Deb McIntosh was the master of ceremonies of the vigil, and started with a personal story to highlight the many ways life can be upended by a tragedy.
“So, many people have said, ‘what is the vigil about?’ It is for those who need their community more than ever. It is for the families of Sydney Jensen, Matt Beaudet, Brandon Adams, Chrissy Archibald, Tasha Bates, Richard Askew and Kristy Stroes, and many more that died before and since. To those of you out there who are hurting, please know that your community supports you,” McIntosh said.
“On a personal note, my friend Sydney Jensen passed away about 10 days ago. She passed away from a fentanyl overdose. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the compassion around it — when I talk to people — as it should have. Often times, I’m told, ‘she’s just an addict. She asked for it. Why didn’t she stop?’ She didn’t choose this, no one would. She mattered, every life matters, and we need to come together as a community and show that.”
There were several large posters placed on tables for people to sign to give to the families dealing with recent losses. McIntosh reminded those assembled several times during her remarks that Castlegar is a community that has each others’ backs.
Pastor James McFaddin from New Life Church in Castlegar built on that theme, suggesting love is the only way through grief.
“Our prayers are with all of those who have been stricken with this unfathomable grief and loss. We are compelled to bring warmth into the cold and hopeless void that accompanies the devastation of death and loss,” McFaddin said.
“We are compelled to stand alongside our fellow citizens in our city and abroad. We ask ourselves, ‘how can life come after something like this? Can it?’ Not the same life that it used to be. For now, in this life, we are maimed and we are scarred. Now, more than ever, we need to cling to love with child-like faith.”
McIntosh opened the podium to anyone who wished to speak. Jara, new to Castlegar as part of the Muslim community, took to the microphone.
“I recently moved to Castlegar. I want to say thank you to everybody for welcoming our new Muslim community. We’re small, but we’re growing. Huge condolences to the family for their loss. I think it’s really important that everybody stands behind them and really understands that Islam is a religion of peace. We do not accept this terrorism in our name,” she said through tears.
“There is a verse in the Quran… part of it states that killing an innocent soul is like killing all of mankind and saving a soul is like saving mankind. What these terrorists did was killed an innocent soul and they hurt all of mankind.”