While investigators sift through the debris of a fire that killed a young boy on the weekend, his family is preparing to put him to rest and to rebuild their lives.
Dominik Ambrose David Billy, 7, of Nanaimo died in B.C. Children’s Hospital Sunday morning despite attempts by police, firefighters and paramedics to save his life after fire swept through the second-storey apartment where the family of eight lived above a thrift store in a nearly 100-year-old wooden building at 361 Albert St.
Investigators from Nanaimo Fire Rescue, the B.C. Coroners Office were back on site Tuesday probing what sparked the fire.
Shirley Antoine described her nephew as an outgoing, articulate boy who really loved wrestling.
“John Cena was his favourite wrestler, so I’ve been out asking everybody if they can find a John Cena shirt for him because that’s his favourite,” Antoine said.
The night before the fire Antoine recalled Billy wrestling with his cousin at a family get together for his grandfather’s birthday, tossing each other down and bouncing off a bed like it was a wrestling ring
“They were having fun and all of us were just around them letting them do whatever,” Antoine said.
Billy attended Georgia Avenue Community School. Some of his artwork was brought to his family Monday, including a picture on which he’d written, ‘My peace is spending time at home with Mom and Dad.’
“He was special,” Antoine said. “He wanted to be a wrestler. We called him our Dominator. I said, ‘I’m going to call you the Dominator when you become a wrestler, Dom.'”
People left teddy bears, small toys and votive candles at a vigil on Albert Street Monday night.
Billy’s parents and five siblings grapple with his death and the loss of their home and belongings. One of Billy’s sisters asked Antoine if they could have a Christmas tree.
“The kids are having a really hard time adjusting,” said Charlene Nelson, one of Billy’s aunts who stopped by the scene Tuesday. “They keep asking where their brother is. We keep letting them know he’s not coming home. He didn’t wake up and he’s gone. They’re going to put him in a better place now.”
The family received temporary shelter through the city’s Community Assistance Program but now needs a new home, clothing, furniture and other necessities.
Nanaimo Native Victory Chapel at 471 Irwin St. is accepting donations on the family’s behalf.
“We’ve made the church available to the family to use as a clearing house – just as much as we can help them,” said Per Knudsen, Nanaimo Native Victory Chapel pastor.
Financial donations can also be made to the family by visiting the Go Fund Me website at www.gofundme.com/i1qd7k.
Billy’s funeral will be held at the longhouse kitchen, located on Longhouse Road, Snuneymuxw No. 4 Reserve in Cedar Thursday (Dec. 4) at 11 a.m. The ceremony is open to everyone who wishes to attend.