A crowd of 150 people gathered on the lawn at Victoria Quay as twilight neared on Friday, April 6, to honour the memory of Dontay-Patrick Lucas, who was six years old when he died March 13 in Port Alberni.
Candles were lit, a musician played softly on a guitar, and the families and individuals—many of them members of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations—stood or sat quietly, reflecting.
“This is medicine to our family,” said Brian Lucas, one of Dontay’s uncles. “My little nephew touched a lot of people…we have a lot of gratitude for everybody here. We’re all sharing the same love for my little nephew.”
The family lit three sky lanterns, releasing two of them to float high over the Somass Estuary until they disappeared from view.
Kortney Brookes planned the vigil with the family’s support as a way for members of the public to honour the boy’s memory.
“I think we all need to come to some kind of closure,” she said as the event was winding down on Friday. “We can’t come to terms with (his death) but we can come to closure. He won’t be forgotten.”
Family members were grateful for the outpouring of community support.
“I think this is going to be uplifting for my wife and family. Help us move on,” said Lory Campbell, Dontay’s grandfather.
“Thank you so much for planning this for my late son,” Dontay’s father, Paul Lucas, wrote on Facebook. “Thank you the community of the valley for the love and support you all showed for my son.
“Means a lot and warms my heart. Much respect.”
Kaleb Pynn spent some time lighting votives lined up along the railing of the boardwalk at Victoria Quay. The young man was sombre as he reflected on the vigil, which wound down as the light disappeared.
“I thought this was a good night,” said Pynn, who didn’t know Dontay personally. “I felt sorry for him because he died at a young age. I feel sad whenever someone dies at a young age.”
Port Alberni RCMP are still investigating the boy’s death.