CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin Friends of Makayla Chang express a range of emotions as they gather around her portrait to share stories Tuesday at at a vigil held for the missing Nanaimo teen.

VIDEO: Tears shed and memories shared at vigil for missing Nanaimo teen

More than 100 people turned out to vigil for Makayla Chang, missing since March

Tears, stories, songs, prayers and hope were shared among more than 100 friends and family who came out to a vigil for Makayla Chang.

The event, organized and hosted by family friend Brandy McKee was hosted at John Barsby Secondary School Tuesday.

Chang, 16, has not been seen or heard from since March 19.

“Makayla’s disappearance has brought pain, sadness, anxiety, fear to the family and loved ones each and every day and it only gets worse with each passing day. Never forget Makayla’s name,” McKee said.

Representatives from the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Family Life Association, Haven Society, Nanaimo RCMP and other groups spoke, offered counselling and expressed the need to have agencies and programs in place to ensure children and teens are safe.

“We’re all in this together,” said Debra Hollins, Family Life executive director. “With the work that we do, the people we are with, with the lives that we’re living, there’s no separation from any of us and so when one child goes missing, when one child needs hope and help we all need to be able to respond … so I want there to be a loud noise made so that Makayla knows that she can come home, she has a place to come home to and that we’re all here for her.”

Chang’s friends expressed what she means to them collectively and those things that are special about her to each of them.

“She was one of the few who helped me know it was OK that I could be … myself and still have my faith,” said T.J. Sayer, who led the gathering in a prayer for Chang.

Others shared mementos of Chang, which included a cellphone recording of her singing 7 Years by Lukas Graham.

“Yeah, that touched home. That’s her voice. That’s our girl,” McKee said, her voice breaking after the recording ended. She was then handed a poem written by Chang to read to the gathering.

Chang’s grandmother, Dolly Chang, said she wasn’t surprised at the large turnout.

“She knows a lot of people, Makayla does, yeah,” Dolly Chang said.

She noted a group of friends Makayla hung out with at a Tim Hortons in downtown Nanaimo came to the vigil to speak as a group.

“The noisy ones,” Chang said. “I just saw them a few days after her birthday. I had them all over for a sleepover and made them dinner, made them breakfast. It was noisy, but I love having her friends.”

McKee asked those gathered to share any information they might have about Chang’s disappearance with police or school staff.

“Continue to share your stories and we ask anybody, if you know anything, even if you think it’s small and it might not matter, please contact the RCMP here in Nanaimo or anywhere,” McKee said.

Anyone with information about Chang’s whereabouts or her disappearance, please call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text 274637 with keyword Nanaimo or submit a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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