The Craigflower bridge site where Reena Virk was murdered. (Black Pressfile photo)

Today marks 20-year anniversary of Victoria teen’s murder

An event is being held today in the memory of Reena Virk, who was murdered 20 years ago in Victoria

It’s a tragedy that still evokes heartbreaking memories after 20 years.

Reena Virk was swarmed by a group of mainly girls under the Craigflower Bridge on Nov. 14, 1997. Two of her attackers – Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski – followed her along the shoreline where they continued the beating and held Reena’s head under the water until she drowned. The 14-year-old Saanich girl’s body was discovered eight days later farther up the Gorge Waterway.

“I believe that the murder of Reena Virk had such a deep impact on the entire community that the healing and the recovery from it is ongoing,” said Rachel Calder, executive director of Artemis Place Society.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Reena’s death, Artimis Place Society and Learning Through Loss have organized an event Nov. 14 at the heritage Craigflower Schoolhouse in Kosapsom Park. Remembering Reena: A Community’s Commitment to Nonviolence will get underway at 1 p.m. featuring a number of speakers including Reena’s father, Manjit Virk, and Education Minister Rob Fleming.

“I believe that holding it at the place where Reena was killed creates a very powerful experience. And I think the trauma of her death there is still felt there. I know myself and many people say every time they drive over that bridge, they remember it,” said Calder. “I think gathering at the place of her murder can add a layer of healing and a new story to that place.”

Organizers hope to honour Reena’s life and memory by creating a space for continued learning and conversation.

“We wanted to contribute to a different narrative on how to actually provide healing opportunities to youth who may be both victims and perpetrators,” said Shauna Janz, executive director of Learning Through Loss.

Janz points to a study that found up to 87 per cent of youth in the criminal justice system experienced a big loss in their life and didn’t have the support or resources around to properly deal with it.

“We recognize that oftentimes people who are perpetuating violence, it’s because that’s what they have a lived experience of or they have some kind of traumatic loss,” she said. “How can we contribute to non-violence by providing healing opportunities so that youth can make healthy, life-affirming choices?”

Calder said she hopes the event will also spark a discussion on inclusion, something Reena was desperately seeking.

“How could we have created a community that was more inclusive, where she felt she belonged and also that she was safe?” said Calder. “I’m hoping in her honour and in her memory, we can impact the community to create a more inclusive and a more safe place for all of our young people.”

The groups are also asking for people to show their commitment to safe and inclusive communities on social media by using the hashtags: #iremember #reena and #icommit2nonviolence.

 

An event will be held Nov. 14 to mark the 20th anniversary of Reena Virk’s murder. (Handout photo)

Manjit Virk and wife Suman at their home with Reena’s parrot Smooch and a DVD about Reena. Black Press file photo

Just Posted

Okanagan wineries back to business as usual

“It’s business as usual,” said Jeff Harder, owner of the Lake Country winery, Friday morning.

Snow impacting flights at Kelowna airport

Tough conditions have delayed several flights and cancelled others at the regional airport

Accidents happening across Central Okanagan

There are several reports of crashes throughout the Kelowna area

Friend of accused testifies at Kelowna sex assault trial

The trial of a West Kelowna man in a 2016 sexual assault continues at the Kelowna courthouse

Two men in custody after stolen vehicle found

A Kelowna man and a Vernon man are facing charges

What’s happening

Check out what is happening this weekend in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

Penticton rally set for Indigenous homicide victims

Rally in support of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine set for Monday at noon at the courthouse

Familiar faces head up library board

The executive of the Okanagan Regional Library board remains the same

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

The St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program launches a pilot project at the 2018 Kamloops B.C. Winter Games

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

Twitter feed prays for — instead of preying on — B.C. MLAs

Non-partisan Christian group wants to support politicians through personalized prayer

Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Tina Fontaine was pulled from a river in 2014, her body wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks

Most Read