Prince Rupert joins in unity walk organized by MLA Jen Rice, after community tragedy

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice organized a community walk on Nov. 27 to bring residents together in unity and share collective grief after a murder-suicide in Prince Rupert on Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice organized a community walk on Nov. 27 to bring residents together in unity and share collective grief after a murder-suicide in Prince Rupert on Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
A participant takes a flower as part of a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)A participant takes a flower as part of a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Flowers were available to participants at a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)Flowers were available to participants at a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Ts’msyen Elder Murray Smith offers a traditional welcome and word of support at the Prince Rupert waterfront on Nov 27 where community residents gathered at the end of walk to promote healing and togetherness. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)Ts’msyen Elder Murray Smith offers a traditional welcome and word of support at the Prince Rupert waterfront on Nov 27 where community residents gathered at the end of walk to promote healing and togetherness. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Just less than 200 people joined together in a togetherness walk to promote unity and healing in a walk to share space organized by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, after a community tragedy occurred Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)Just less than 200 people joined together in a togetherness walk to promote unity and healing in a walk to share space organized by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, after a community tragedy occurred Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Just less than 200 people joined together in a togetherness walk to promote unity and healing in a walk to share space organized by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, after a community tragedy occurred Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)Just less than 200 people joined together in a togetherness walk to promote unity and healing in a walk to share space organized by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, after a community tragedy occurred Nov. 21. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Flowers were available to participants at a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)Flowers were available to participants at a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
A man takes a flower as part of a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)A man takes a flower as part of a community walk organized by Jennifer Rice MLA for North Coast on Nov. 21. The aim of the walk was to bring people together to share space and lift each other up after a recent community tragedy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society singers and dancers share in the ceremonies at a togetherness walk to promote healing and unity in collective grief on Nov 21, after a community tragedy on Nov. 21. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)

More than 150 people attended a coming together and community walk on Nov. 27 to support one another after the city was left reeling in the tragedy of last Monday’s murder-suicide shooting in ocean Center Mall.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice addressed the crowd gathered on the courthouse lawn and said the purpose and intent of the walk was to draw residents together in unity as a progressive movement forward after the recent tragedy.

“… the purpose can be whatever it needs to be for you, but my intention was to have our community come together and lift each other up to hold space for one another because whether you are very closely attached to the victims from Monday’s tragedy, or whether you are 10 degrees separated this impacts all of us …”

Mayor Herb Pond addressed attendees stating he had only a few words to share.

“Anger, sorrow, confusion, and numbness are some of the words we have been feeling amongst ourselves in the last few days, and I have felt all of those. But, I’d like to add one more … and that’s thankfulness. I am thankful that we can gather as a community and go through it together.”

“There are no words that are adequate for the moment. There is nothing that will rise to meet this moment … ” Pond said.

“I think together, maybe more than ever, we need a little bit of brightness in our Christmas,” the mayor said, explaining it had been suggested to him that residents be encouraged to display more seasonal lights this year. He said it’s a small gesture to add light to a darkened community.

“I think together, maybe now more than ever, we need a little brightness in our Christmas,” Pond said.

The walk, organized by Rice, took place starting at the courthouse lawn and was routed downtown to Bill Murray Way, ending at the waterfront with a traditional welcome from Ts’msyen Elder Murray Smith, words of support from Pastor Diana Edis, prayers and blessing from Symbia Barnaby, prayers from Sikh representatives ending with drumming and singing from the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society.

Rice said while the walk was not specifically a memorial walk, people were welcome to use the walk as they needed.

“However you want to process what you need to process, whether it’s grief from this tragedy, whether it’s from any other event that’s happening in your life, any other stressor — this is just a way to walk it out. Exercise is good for us. It’s good for processing stress.”

Ts’msyen Elder Murray Smith said he knows there is an “awful hole in the hearts of Prince Rupert.”

“That hole could be filled with resentment and anger. Confusion … I know maybe there’s bitterness that will turn to hate … Time alone [on its own] does not heal bitterness or sadness or loneliness. It’s what you do with your time that is going to make sense – going to make sense overall.”

“How does one explain the unexplainable … How do we do that? By coming together and doing what we are doing, ” he said.

Pastor Diana Edis of St. Pauls Lutheran Church praised the turnout of people participating in the walk.

“We are community. Some of us have come very recently. Some of us have been here for 1000s upon 1000s of years, yet we are one and when one hurts, we all hurt,” Edis said.

“So we come together today as a community for healing, for health — that’s not going to come all at once, it’s not going to come in one fell swoop. But, one hand in another, one hug, one word of love shared, that is what gives us healing.”

The ceremony closed after traditional drumming and singing with Rice quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Hope is being able to see there is light despite of all the darkness,” she said.”I feel it’s so appropriate for us right now.”


K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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