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

Repurposing plaza in Alberni business district follows market trend

Public hearing for Fairway Market conversion set for March 12

Fisheries Act fix doesn’t go far enough, says Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council

Not even close to what we need,’ MP Gord Johns says

Pension delays unacceptable, Courtenay-Alberni MP says

Some retiring vets, RCMP wait ‘months, years’

Armada boys drop first game of AAA North Island basketball championships

Alberni faces No. 1 seed Mark Isfeld in Saturday, Feb. 17 morning game

Alberni Armada senior girls play for Island bronze

Girls drop game to SMU, still have a shot at provincial basketball berth

North Island College opens its doors to Alberni, west coast students

More than 200 Grade 11 students check out programs offered at Alberni campus

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Porch lights turn on for Canadian teen behind #BeccaToldMeTo movement

New Brunswick’s Rebecca Schofield had asked her Facebook followers to perform random acts of kindness

B.C. files challenge to Alberta wine trade ban

First formal dispute under Canadian Free Trade Agreement

Vancouver Island job market ever-evolving

Various sectors driving employment in region will be represented at Black Press career fair in Comox Feb. 8

NDP’s first budget to set spending record for housing, child care

Premier John Horgan promises biggest investments in B.C. history

Regional conference tackles topic of chronic diseases

Family physicians invited to register to attend Chronic Disease Day event in Pitt Meadows.

B.C. man goes to jail for beating puppy to death

Robert Carolan has also been banned from owning animals for the next ten years

BCHL Today: Langley enjoys home ice while roller coast ride continues for Chilliwack Chiefs

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read