THUNDER BAY -- Violence in the city must end.
That’s the message sent Thursday evening as hundreds of people filled McGillivray Square in front of city hall for a silent candlelight vigil in response to the city’s sixth homicide of the year on Monday, where eight-year-old Brandi Marie Wingert was the victim in a deadly domestic dispute at a Donald Street residence.
“I came out tonight because we have a lot of violence in Thunder Bay and it’s good that everybody gets together to stop this because we can’t go on,” said Elia Gaspar, who came to the vigil with her sister, niece and best friend.
Gaspar wasn’t surprised at the turnout at Dease Park, where the march to city hall began, as the death of an innocent child has sparked a call for action in regards to violent crime in Thunder Bay.
“We’re not just here for her. We’re here for everybody,” said Gaspar. “We need to step up to the plate, not just our mayor, but as a community we have to say this is enough. Maybe we need more policing, we need more people on the streets to protect us as individuals but we need to do something.”
Although it was great to see the community come together, Gaspar said she wished it was under different circumstances.
“I don’t want to be standing here and doing something because someone died. We want to stand together to stop it and prevent it,” she said.
Dease Park was flooded with people of all ages before Thursday’s march and 10-year-old Destiny Maki wanted to come to tell Brandi that everything is going to be OK.
“She’ll be OK up there,” she said.
“Thunder Bay should be a safe community but with all the killing that’s happening, it’s not really safe,” said Destiny.
Event organizer Rebecca Zajac was overwhelmed and impressed with the turnout at the vigil.
“Thunder Bay is awesome and I know that when push comes to shove we all come together but I wasn’t expecting this big of a response,” she said.
Zajac decided to host the vigil after she heard about the tragic event earlier this week.
“I have a daughter and when I thought about what happened, it was just overwhelming … the sixth death in Thunder Bay in the last eight months. It stops your heart and it makes you sad and it makes you angry and it makes you feel like something’s got to be done,” she said.
“If we all get together as one, we can do anything including stopping the violence.”